Mary Thompson History

Mary Thompson Fund does not have any religious affiliations, and is supported by various religious and non-religious organisations.

From left to right: Trudie and Mary Thompson

Who was Mary Thompson?

Mary Thompson was born in Middlesbrough and spent her life in teaching - both in London and Middlesbrough having first trained as a teacher in Newcastle.  Mary returned to Middlesbrough after her father died and her mother was not well and she became the stable 'centre' of the family.  She taught maths at Newlands Convent in Middlesbrough and at St. Mary's College, where she became Deputy Head before her retirement.


In 1970, Mary and her beloved sister Trudie travelled to Leeds to hear Mother Teresa speak, setting in motion decades of selfless work.  The sisters quickly established the Middlesbrough branch of the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa group and went on to devote their lives to helping those less fortunate. 

Mary was a founder member of the Middlesbrough Diocese Justice and Peace Commission. She was treasurer for 14 years and Chair in the 1970s. She was the ‘energy’ behind many of the Commission’s projects and campaigns.


The sisters’ work helping refugees began in 1972 when Ugandan Asians arrived in the UK after being expelled from their county by Idi Amin, and then in 1979 when the ‘Vietnamese Boat People’ arrived.  The sisters helped with accommodation, friendship and support.  Many of the Vietnamese refugees became firm lifelong friends. 


Mary died in 2001 at the age of 81, and at the funeral her sister Trudie asked for donations for refugees instead of flowers.  £2,300 was raised, and following a discussion with our current chair, Pete Widlinski, it was agreed to establish the Mary Thompson Fund to help refugees and people seeking asylum in the Tees Valley.  Trudie was our first chair and was an engineer and accomplished artist designing cards and posters for various campaigns as well as being an active member. She and Mary were lifelong members of CND as well as various Justice and Peace organisations and campaigns. Trudie died in 2016 at the age of 94 and remained a Mary Thompson Fund trustee from the beginning.