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Famous Wanstead anti-nuclear campaigner celebrates 90th birthday

PUBLISHED: 15:15 31 October 2017

Sarah Hipperson (front left) with the Greenham Common protesters. Picture: PA

Sarah Hipperson (front left) with the Greenham Common protesters. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Wanstead peace campaigner Sarah Hipperson, who was one of the longest residents at the anti-nuclear Greenham Common protest, has celebrated her 90th birthday.

RAF Greenham Common air base the site of continuous women's peace protests from 1981 until 1991 when the final American Cruise missiles were removed .Picture: PARAF Greenham Common air base the site of continuous women's peace protests from 1981 until 1991 when the final American Cruise missiles were removed .Picture: PA

Sarah, of Sydney Road, enjoyed cake with friends and family on Sunday at The George, in High Street, reminiscing over her remarkable life.

She moved to Wanstead, after growing up in Glasgow and living in Canada for 16 years, and brought up her five children in St Mary’s Avenue.

Sarah still attends Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in Cambridge Park, where she became involved with a justice and peace group. Close friend Paul Donovan remembers: “During the early 1980s Sarah became increasingly frustrated with trying to raise awareness of nuclear weapons in Wanstead.”

“There would be a numbing effect but it went no further than that,” said Sarah, who became a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Two of the longest residents of the Greenham Common Peace Camp as the camp finally packed up, Sarah Hipperson (right) and Jean Hutchinson (left). Picture: PATwo of the longest residents of the Greenham Common Peace Camp as the camp finally packed up, Sarah Hipperson (right) and Jean Hutchinson (left). Picture: PA

In 1983 she moved to Greenham Common, to protest against US nuclear weapons being held on UK soil, and remained there campaigning for the next 19 years.

At one point 70,000 protesters linked hands to form a 14-mile human chain, and the women-only peace camp became one of the iconic protests around the world. “The work is to achieve complete nuclear disarmament,” said Sarah.

“We have all been involved in the crime that presents itself as nuclear deterrent. The bottom line is that we will use weapons that are 80 per cent more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, in the case of Trident, as part of the defence policy of this country.

“As a Christian I have never been able to live with that.”

Over the years, Sarah was repeatedly arrested for peaceful direct actions, like blocking vehicles and cutting fences.

She served 22 sentences, the longest being 28 days in Holloway for criminal damage.

“I never paid a fine,” said Sarah proudly.

The missiles left the site in 1991, but the women stayed protesting against Trident, and they also won the right to build a memorial.

The old camp was inaugarated as a Commemorative and Historic Site on October 5 2002, and Sarah was one of the final four campaigners to leave.

She remains a steadfast opponent of nuclear weapons.


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