A CHARITY has paid a poignant tribute to a popular member of staff who died of coronavirus – by naming a new flower after her.

Margaret ‘Margie, Blyth, who had served the North East Autism Society for 18 years, passed away from the virus in Sunderland Royal Infirmary in April. She was 66.

Now, a newly cultivated geranium, grown at a County Durham farm run as a training centre by the charity, has been named ‘Margie Blyth’ in her honour.

The main plant is to be given to Margie’s family and 11 cuttings will have pride of place in the various locations of the charity where she worked.

Margie’s son Jon said: “The family are really touched. It’s a beautiful tribute and it means her memory will be around forever. She loved flowers and would have loved to know this had happened.”

The organge and pink geranium was cultivated by horticultural experts at New Warlands Farm, at Burnhope.

Ian Patterson, programme manager at the farm, said: “Because it’s a new species, it didn’t have a name, so we asked the family if it could be called the Margie Blyth, and they loved the idea.

“It’s a really lovely flower and we all thought it was a nice way to remember her. She worked in a lot of places run by the society, so there’ll now be a cutting sent to all of them.

“She was such a great character – if you asked her to do something, she just got on and did it. She’s a big miss for everyone.”

New Warlands Farm was one of the places Margie worked – filling in during staff illnesses, or providing an extra pair of hands to prepare for events.

John Phillipson, chief executive of the North East Autism Society, said: “It’s a beautiful tribute to a very special person and, what’s especially nice, is that it will endure. Whenever people see the flower, they’ll be reminded of Margie for years to come.”

Margie, who lived in the Millfield area of Sunderland, had the official title of ‘domestic staff’ but her impact was felt in all kinds of ways across the charity, and she was known as “Mum” to staff and service-users at her main base, the Emsworth centre for adult day care services, in Sunderland.

Her funeral was held at Sunderland Crematorium but a celebration of her life is to be held after the lockdown. The family hopes to be able to give those attending packets of Margie Blyth seeds.