Search

‘Indefatigable’ peace campaigner and Wanstead resident Sarah Hipperson dies aged 90

PUBLISHED: 12:22 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:22 20 August 2018

Sarah Hipperson

Sarah Hipperson

Archant

Indefatigable peace campaigner and prominent Wanstead resident, Sarah Hipperson, has died at the age of 90.

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

So ends a remarkable life dedicated to peace and justice.

Sarah lived in Wanstead for many decades but it was her decision in 1983 to up sticks and move to join the peace protest at Greenham Common that brought her to national prominence.

Sarah was in her mid-50s when she took the momentous step to go to Greenham.

There she joined the women’s camp, getting directly involved in peaceful direct action, like cutting fences and obstructing vehicles, to stop the siting of cruise missiles in the area.

Sarah finished up serving 22 sentences, the longest being 28 days in Holloway Prison for criminal damage. It was her proud boast that she “never paid a fine.”

Indeed, the court cases were seen by the women as a chance to make the case against nuclear weapons. The justification for their action being the prevention of the greater crime of nuclear war.

Sarah was very clear on what she saw as the abomination of nuclear weapons. She saw it as an offence against humanity and in defiance of God.

As time went on, Sarah and the other women saw their cause at least partially fulfilled. The Americans left Greenham Common with their weapons.

In the courts too, there were subsequent successes, with the Law Lords declaring the bye-laws used by the Ministry of Defence to remove the women from Greenham Common to be invalid.

Sarah was part of the group that built a commemorative garden to all that had gone on there - a symbol of peace.

Greenham Common was returned, in its natural state, to the people of Newbury.

In 2005, Sarah wrote a book, Greenham, which chronicled the time on the peace protest, including a number of the court cases.

Sarah Hipperson had a tough upbringing. A native of Glasgow, she became a nurse and mid-wife in her late teens, delivering babies in the Govern area.

She then decided to emigrate to Canada, where she lived for 16 years, nursing, getting married and having five children. She returned to England in the 1970, settling in Wanstead.

Sarah became a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, where she continued to attend mass until her death.

Life in the 1970s involved being a member of the local justice and peace group at Our Lady of Lourdes, as well as sitting on the bench as a Justice of the Peace.

During the early 1980s Sarah became increasingly frustrated in Wanstead with trying to raise awareness of nuclear weapons.

She showed Helen Caldacott’s film “Critical Mass” about the dangers of nuclear weapons.

“There would be a numbing effect but it went no further than that,” said Sarah, who became a member of CND and worked with Catholic Peace Action.

This all proved to be part of the formative process, that would lead to her dramatic move in 1983 to Greenham.

Sarah returned full time to Wanstead in the noughties, where she continued to campaign against nuclear weapons. She was also often called on by the media for comment on Greenham Common and nuclear weapons.

Sarah became involved, post 9/11, with the local anti-war Peace and Justice in East London group. This included some work in the campaign to oppose the interning of people without trial.

Sarah was always indefatigable in her approach to the struggle for justice. I remember her saying that the work was all that mattered – nothing must get in the way.

Egos and personality clashes must all be put aside.

In later years, Sarah spoke from the pulpit at Our Lady of Lourdes about peace and justice, as well as taking a part for a time in the justice and peace group.

In her private life she was supported by her family, particularly over the past months of her final illness.

Last October, Sarah celebrated her 90th birthday – a joyous event for all of us who attended. She was on good form, ever defiant on matters of justice but still with that mischievous wink and smile.

A devout Christian, peace campaigner, mother and grandmother – a great person, who did much to make the world a better place.

She is survived by Mark, Jane, Martin, Alistair and Matt.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ilford Recorder