Wanstead justice campaigner who made ‘a better life’ for world dies aged 75

Kathy Piper

Kathy Piper - Credit: Archant

A Wanstead peace campaigner who fought through her own struggles with osteoporosis and arthritis to work across the world has died at the age of 75.

Kathy Piper lost a long battle with cancer on February 26 and friends and colleagues have paid tribute to her life’s work.

Born in Dagenham in 1937, she moved to Chadwell Heath after marrying Chris Piper and onto Wanstead in the early 1980s.

The couple had three children together and went on to become grandparents to four.

After attending Ilford Ursuline, she was drawn to social justice and joined the Catholic Institute of International Relations.

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The organisation took her to war-torn regions of Central America through the 1970s and 1980s.

At the time, she was also involved in the creation of Catholic social justice group the National Justice and Peace Network.

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In the early 1990s, she played a key role in bringing philosopher Noam Chomsky over to lecture for CIIR.

Described as “a lifelong socialist” by friends, she brought liberation theology to east London by playing host to Latin American visitors at her Wanstead home.

After leaving CIIR, Kathy became chair of the Brentwood Justice and Peace Commission.

She set up working groups on issues including the Troubles in Northern Ireland and refugees.

Friend Paul Donovan worked in the group with Kathy after meeting her at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in Cambridge Park, Wanstead.

Together they set up the Association for Relief in Crisis areas to raise awareness and money for projects in Peru, India, Kenya and beyond.

Paul said: “Kathy will be sadly missed.

“She was a quiet inspiration to so many people.

“Her lifelong bravery when faced with physical challenges and determination to make a better life for the mass of people who inhabit this planet.

“She was also a proud mother and grandmother to John, Clare, Lucy and Ella.

“She will though now go to be reunited with her beloved Chris.”

Kathy’s funeral is at 11.30pm on Wednesday at Our Lady of Lourdes, Wanstead.

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