MAGGIE Ballinger’s way with words won her top place in a national competition to find the best maritime limerick in celebration of life at sea.
Having worked in the NHS until retirement eight years ago, she turned her talents to the contest run by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society ahead of World Poetry Day.
Maggie, aged 60, of Fulwood, entered after watching a programme about a mariner’s experience of 30-metre waves which scientists claimed impossible until proven credible, resulting in shipping lane changes.
All her life, her greatest fear has been drowning and as a result she has the greatest admiration for anyone who willingly goes to sea.
A former manager of Jessop Hospital and latterly responsible for the whole of the city’s women’s services, she said the winning lines came “very quickly”.
“I’ve just been writing verse all my life, it’s not that difficult. I just find it easy, but then there are lots of things I wish I could do, more useful things!”
Entries were judged by South Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan, who said: “Maggie’s limerick actually covers a number of emotions which is hard to do in five lines: it rhymes, it’s got rhythm, it’s a proper limerick.”
Maggie is now working on a children’s book called Baa Baa Pink Sheep.
Maggie’s winning limerick
The swell, and the towering wave,
Cover many a seafarer’s grave.
So to land Britain’s dish,
(What are chips, without fish?)
A man must be strong, skilled and brave