A MUCH-loved charity supporter who saved a historic castle and made it her home for more than 30 years has died, aged 86.

Margaret Dobson bought the centuries-old Brancepeth Castle, in County Durham, in the late 1970s, following a chance visit.

She then made it her family home, as well as renting out rooms to tenants.

Over the years, she ran many craft and gift fairs and concerts in the castle, was a staunch supporter of The Children’s Society and a prominent member of the community in Brancepeth village and its St Brandon’s Church.

She was also a volunteer “listener” at Durham Cathedral until six months before her death.

Mrs Dobson died at home on Sunday, October 19, following a short illness. A small family funeral was held quickly, as Mrs Dobson decided to leave her body to science.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at St Brandon’s Church on Friday, November 14, at 1pm.

Donations if desired should be made to The Children’s Society or the Send a Cow initiative.

Mrs Dobson was born near Cambridge in 1928 and worked in publishing in London, where she pioneered illustration in children's books and met her future husband, Dennis.

They had seven children and 11 grandchildren.

Mrs Dobson decided to buy Brancepeth Castle after coming across it while out walking during a National Union of Teachers conference in Durham in 1978.

Her husband died before they moved north, but she pressed ahead with the relocation.

Mrs Dobson’s funeral, held in the castle chapel, was led by Rev Alison Hobbs, her daughter who also lives in the castle.