Monday 11 October 2021

Photographic History - Village Characters - Ginny Dowson and Maud Rivers.


An Award deserved but not forthcoming.

Beyond doubt the most outstanding charity work in Eton Wick was performed by Ginny Dowson and Maud Rivers. Ginny and Maud worked tirelessly from the 1960s until 1984, when ill health overtook them. An appeal for recognition, recommending the award of M.B.E. was made to Prime Minister of the day Margaret Thatcher. Regrettably no award was forthcoming, despite the recommendation being supported by the Vicar of Eton, a Doctor from the Eton Surgery and a former Chairman of Eton Urban District Council and County Councillor. Ginny died of cancer and Maud suffered a stroke before another attempt to gain recognition could be made.

The list of beneficiaries is almost endless: among the many to benefit substantially from their work were 17 village recipients and a further 18 from outside the village; also, autistic children, Clifton Lodge, the Youth Club, St John's and St Gilbert's churches, a telephone for Pensioners, the Village Hall, the Scouts and Brownies, taxi fares for the sick, gifts for the elderly/deserving, etc. 

The gifts to individuals included a paid visit to Lourdes. There were donations to disc radios at Wexham and Heatherwood Hospitals, a kidney machine for a London Hospital, equipment for the Eton Surgery, plus some 190 incidental items such as wheelchairs and special need mattresses, etc. to hospitals. 

Ginny lived all her life in the same house in Hope Cottages, Common Road. Her father, Jack Newell was the village blacksmith from about 1922 to the 1940s. The photograph taken in the 1960s shows from left, Ginny, Maud and Ginny's grandson Carey Dowson salvaging a cart wheel from the smaller of the two ponds situated between Wheatbutts Cottage and Dairy Farm, no doubt hoping to sell it for charity.

This article was first published in A Pictorial History of Eton Wick & Eton.


  1. I recall the Mrs Dowson's son, Alan was the Scout troop leader in the 1960's.

  2. I remember I used to walk past Mrs Dowsons house everyday she always had stuff on her wall for sale I bought an old pair of army boots off her for 50p my mates all took the micky out of me but my dad taught me how to shine the toecaps till you could see your face in them and I ended up swapping them for a 2 week old pair of doc Martins