Doris Langford MBE, who raised millions for charity, dies aged 88

Doris Langford with her MBE and daughters, Sara-Jane Maskell (left) and Elizabeth Hovey (right)

Doris Langford with her MBE and daughters, Sara-Jane Maskell (left) and Elizabeth Hovey (right) - Credit: Charles Green Photography

A Hethersett woman responsible for raising millions of pounds for charities over six decades has died.

Doris Langford was made an MBE in 2011 for her services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

She also raised money for many other charities including Save The Children and Water Aid and supported charities for the blind and those suffering from Alzheimer’s. She did this through organising suppers, fashion shows, quizzes, raffles, and many other events.

Doris’ daughter Liz Hovey said: “Mum was a born organiser. We were very proud of what she achieved. She raised millions for various charities during her lifetime and was so good at organising.”

Doris died at her home on May 28 at the age of 88. A cremation service is due to take place on June 16 with a memorial service at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, at a later date.


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She was born Doris Casburn on July 29, 1932, on what she later described in a diary entry as a “stormy night” in the north Norfolk village of Hunworth, near Holt.

Her father was a farmer and she grew up in Corpusty, attending the local school before moving onto Fakenham Grammar School, which she travelled to and from by train each day. 

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After leaving school, she trained as a secretary and began working for Morgan’s Brewery in Norwich where she met her future husband Ronald Langford who had moved to Norfolk from the north-west of England.

Black and white photograph of Doris Langford, smiling as a young woman

Doris Langford as a young woman - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

They were married at Saxthorpe in September 1954 - which was on a Thursday because that was the day the bus went to the village and guests were able to attend.

After her wedding, Doris left her employment as husbands and wives were not allowed to be employed by the same company.

Ronald went on to become brewery production and distribution director when Morgan’s, Bullard’s, and Steward and Patteson breweries were taken over by Watney Mann.

That marked the end of her paid employment but the start of a glorious and sparkling career in voluntary work.

The couple moved a number of times in the Norwich area including to Reepham Road in Hellesdon, Dereham Road (where their two daughters were born), and then Branksome Close off Newmarket Road.

It was at the latter that Doris first became interested in the Norfolk branch of the RNLI, eventually fulfilling a number of roles including president.

She received a number of awards from the Norwich branch including their gold badge for meritorious service.

Her interest in the lifeboat service went back to the years of the Second World War and just after when, as a teenager, she stayed in Sheringham at the home of the Pegg family with their long history of lifeboat service.

Doris Langford receiving an RNLI award from the Duke of Kent

Doris Langford receiving an RNLI award from the Duke of Kent - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Reminiscing many years later, Doris said: “I can remember seeing a German plane being shot down and the wreckage on the beach at Sheringham. We used to travel there from our home in Corpusty, 20 miles away."

Doris joined the Norwich branch in the early 1950s and, in the following 60 plus years, won virtually every accolade afforded to non-crew supporters including a very unusual gift a few years ago.

By this time Doris was confined to a wheelchair and was presented with a special blanket in royal blue and embellished with an RNLI Governor’s badge.

Her close association with St Peter Mancroft led to her playing an active part in the Save The Children Fund. Along with her husband she was also a founder member of Norwich South Rotary Club and Inner Wheel (the women’s rotary equivalent). 

In 2011 her work with the Norwich branch of the RNLI resulted in her travelling to Buckingham Palace with her two daughters to be made an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen.

Doris Langford receiving her MBE from the Queen

Doris Langford receiving her MBE from the Queen - Credit: HM The Queen and BCA Ltd

Doris Langford receiving her MBE from the Queen

Doris Langford receiving her MBE from the Queen - Credit: HM The Queen and BCA Ltd

Doris Langford with her MBE

Doris Langford with her MBE - Credit: Charles Green Photography

She moved to Hethersett in 2006 to be closer to her family after the death of her husband.

Doris Langford MBE with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Doris Langford with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Doris had an extensive family and leaves behind two daughters, five grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren, the latter being aged from four months to 17 years.

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