Pioneer in her field passes away

Margaret Foley
Margaret Foley

A DOCTOR known for her work to improve contraception has passed away aged 94.

Margaret O’Flynn (nee Boulton, formerly Foley) died peacefully on September 22.

She lived in Henty Gardens, in Chichester, and had been in the area since 1950.

Known professionally as Margaret Foley, she qualified as a doctor in 1942, later becoming a consultant gynaecologist who devoted most of her career to the improvement of contraception, the sexual health of women and management of the menopause.

In 1970, she became, with her husband John Foley, the first husband-and-wife Fellows of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Her mentor was Sir John Peel, who later became the Queen’s gynaecologist, their friendship enduring for life.

She married John Foley, also a gynaecologist, in 1949 and had four children: Jane, Patrick, Martin and Fiona.

In 1952, her husband was appointed consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in Portsmouth and Margaret moved into women’s sexual health, where her first success was to achieve free contraception for women.

Later, with the arrival of the pill, funding increased and she raised all funds for the Ella Gordon Unit, in Portsmouth.

Following the death of John in 1972, Margaret took a year’s leave of absence in 1976 and became senior gynaecologist in Abu Dhabi. In 1977, Margaret married Garry O’Flynn, a GP, becoming stepmother to five – Anne (deceased), Sarah, Clare, Mandy and Joanna.

In her private life, Margaret was a formidable woman. Beautiful, a tremendous clothes horse and a bit of a spender, she was at her best when surrounded by friends and family and she was a terrific cook and gracious hostess.

She was a combination of significant courage and strength, coupled with a kind of shyness. Margaret’s granddaughter Clare Fiona Foley Gilliland is a midwife and her grandson Michael John Joyce Foley is a doctor.