Originally from South Dublin, Mary-Liz transferred from Bank of Ireland’s Head Office to their Leeds branch when she married her Salfordian husband. Several years of daily trans-Pennine commuting sparked a change in career and she graduated in Horticulture (RHS Wisley) and Garden Design (Reaseheath). While studying Garden and Landscape History at Manchester University, she
established her garden design and construction business and enjoyed a fulfilling career with commissions across Greater Manchester and into Lancashire until retirement.
Appointed a Magistrate at Salford Courthouse in 1997 she sat in both Adult and Youth jurisdictions. Mary-Liz was elected Chairman of the Manchester & Salford Bench in 2013 following the 2012 merger of both courthouses. She was privileged to be re-elected each of the next four years to lead her Magistrate colleagues through an extended period of upheaval across the court system, culminating in being elected the first Bench Chairman of Greater Manchester at the creation of a single bench for the county. During her tenure she represented Magistrates across the North West Region at what was then the National Bench Chairmen’s Forum in London. At the end of her tenure Mary-Liz was appointed to the Greater Manchester Advisory Committee, the panel responsible for magistrate recruitment.
Engaging with communities has always been important to Mary-Liz and for 10 years, with her dedicated colleagues, she presented an interactive programme about the Magistracy to year six pupils across Salford schools as part of the Key Stage 2 framework for Citizenship. During that period she was invited to join the Barton Moss Secure Unit’s Scrutiny & Strategy Panel and served on the board for two three year terms.
The Criminal Justice Process module of Salford University’s Law & Criminology degree course involves a range of justice practitioners – prosecutors, defence lawyers, probation, judges and magistrates. Joining the panel in 2012, Mary-Liz continues to engage with students regarding the fundamental importance of the Magistracy within the justice system. The benefit to the students is reflected in the consistent, positive feedback for this module, year on year.
Mary-Liz’s contribution to the voluntary sector incorporates trusteeships and other volunteer roles.
In 2023 she was appointed to the Booth Charities’ Board of Trustees as a Cooptative Trustee/Housing Trustee.
Joining the Trustee board for the J T Blair charity in 2017, she was appointed Chair of Trustees in 2020. J T Blair provides grant funding to voluntary groups that support older people in Manchester and Salford.
Mary-Liz chairs the Friends of Jack’s House, a group that organises fundraising events for Young Lives vs Cancer’s new ‘Home from Home’ for children and young people undergoing daily treatment for cancer in Manchester. Young Lives vs Cancer supports families at a critical time, enabling cancer patients to
maintain a sense of normality during their treatment journeys.
She is secretary to the Manchester & District Hospital Choirs Committee which is now in its 50th year organising fundraising Christmas concerts at the Bridgewater Hall to support Young Lives vs Cancer’s vital work in Manchester.
The safeguarding of children and adults at risk is of particular importance to Mary-Liz and she has been a volunteer coordinator for safeguarding at Salford Cathedral for several years. She is jointly responsible for working with new and the Cathedral’s current 100+ volunteers to complete the safer recruitment protocols for their roles, ensuring their full engagement with the DBS process, including the required three-yearly DBS renewals.
Since 1995 she has been a chorister at Salford Cathedral, a role integral to Sunday services, at Christmas, Easter and many other formal occasions, as required. In 2021 the choir broadcast live on Radio 4 twice and previously recorded a series of programmes for My Favourite Hymns broadcast by
In her younger years, Mary-Liz was a keen sportswoman who represented Ireland at the 1983 European Club Hockey Championships and she also played county hockey for Greater Manchester.
In her spare time she enjoys music, good food, travelling and fell walking with her husband and their cocker spaniel.
In 2017 Mary-Liz was honoured to be appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester.