Margaret Riley Crann was born in 1923, the daughter of Thomas and Ina Crann of New Earswick, York. Margaret studied mathematics at Cambridge and became a mathematics teacher at schools in London including Putney High School for Girls, teaching and writing textbooks for pupils of all abilities, including those who struggled with maths.
However, she became known for her work with the most mathematically gifted pupils, founding the British Mathematical Olympiad in 1966 with her husband Walter Hayman following a visit to Moscow. This led to the UK becoming one of the first western countries to send a team to the International Mathematical Olympiad (in 1967). Margaret fought for sponsorship funding for the British team and worked hard to foster appreciation of the potential value of mathematics competitions.
Margaret was President of the Mathematical Association in 1974-5 and used this position to champion the importance of engaging pupils of all abilities, and speaking to their interests, when teaching.
Margaret Hayman had three daughters with Walter – Daphne, Carolyn and Sheila – and died in 1994.