A “remarkable trailblazer” and “one of our greatest unsung heroes in Watford”. That is how the town’s mayor has described Margaret Maughan following her death aged 91.

Acknowledged as Britain’s first Paralympic gold medallist, Margaret lived in Oxhey Road for many years and also taught at Bushey Meads School.

Watford Mayor Peter Taylor said: “I'm very sad to learn about the passing away of Margaret Maughan. She was a remarkable trailblazer and opened so many doors for people living with disabilities across the UK. She showed that anything was possible at a time when playing sport with a disability was very difficult.

“Outside of her achievements as an athlete, Margaret was a really lovely, positive and friendly woman. She spent much of her life living in Oxhey in Watford and was a local teacher.

“She spent a lot of time volunteering in the local community and helping others locally. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends, of which she had many in the town, at this difficult time.

“She is one of our greatest unsung heroes in Watford and she will be missed by so many.”

Margaret’s Paralympic story began after she was paralysed from the waist down in a road accident in Malawi in 1959.

She returned to Britain for treatment at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where she took up archery as part of her rehabilitation with Dr Ludwig Guttmann, who is recognised as the founder of the Paralympic Games.

Within a year, Margaret was to be winning gold in Rome, although a mix up in the scoring meant she only found out about her triumph on the team bus about to return from the venue.

She recalled: “Someone came on the bus and shouted, where’s Margaret Maughan? They had to lift me off, find my wheelchair and take me over to a very nice little podium.

“I didn’t realise I was in the middle until I got there and received a gold medal – it was in a very nice little leather box.

“I got back on the coach again and nobody said well done or anything because nobody realised what had gone on. It was only later I discovered I had won the first medal.”

A winner of three golds and two silver medals, Margaret went on to compete in the 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 Paralympics and also represented Britain in swimming, dartchery and bowls.

Margaret continued to be a strong advocate of the power of sport for disabled people and her trailblazing status was recognised with the honour of lighting the cauldron at the London 2012 Games.

“I felt very, very proud to be a part of such a huge movement,” she said. “From a small beginning in the simple days to seeing what it had become with such large teams has been a marvellous feeling.”