Tributes to Wanstead woman Cathy Piper who has died at the age of 75

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Tributes to tireless Catholic social justice campaigner Tributes to tireless Catholic social justice campaigner

The family and friends of a woman who devoted her life to promoting social justice have paid tribute to her after she died at the age of 75.

Kathy Piper of New Wanstead passed away on February 26 after a long battle with cancer.

A committed Catholic who worshipped at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Cambridge Park, Mrs Piper worked for the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) from the 1970s to the 90s.

During that time she travelled to war torn regions in South America, including Guatemala and Nicaragua, to promote social justice.

As a mother of three, Mrs Piper was initially wary of spending time abroad in such dangerous places.

Her son John said: “She was in two minds about it all, but my dad, Chris, was very supportive of the idea and encouraged her to make the leap.

“It was worrying because often she would be going into extremely dangerous and volatile situations to try and make a difference to people’s lives.

“As teenagers we were all very proud of her. She was an inspirational figure, determined to fight for what she believed was right.

“When she was home our house was always full of interesting people.

“I would often arrive back from university to find a Peruvian priest was staying the night. There was never a dull moment.”

Mrs Piper was also involved in the creation of the Justice and Peace Network (J&P), a Catholic organisation devoted to the promotion of social justice.

After leaving the CIIR in the 1990s she became chair of the Brentwood branch of J&P promoting work with refugees and organising working groups on areas including Northern Ireland.

Her beloved husband Chris died in 2008, but she remained committed to a number of causes.

Her friend Paul Donovan recalls setting up another group, The Association for Relief in Crisis Areas, which supported projects in Peru, India, Colombia and Kenya.

He 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 will long be remembered.

“She was also a proud mother and grandmother.

“And she will now go to be reunited with her beloved Chris.”

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