Campaigner Kathy Bracken who fought for Wapping pensioners dies at 73
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Campaigner Kathy Bracken, who took on Tower Hamlets Council to try and stop Wapping pensioners' club being evicted from Raine's House, has died.
She passed away at 73 after losing a battle with cancer with her family around her, after being taken ill at the height of the Covid crisis.
Kathy famously led a protest to the town hall in 2018 after the club was given notice to quit Raine’s House after four decades.
She mobilised pensioners with demos outside the building in Raine Street, off Wapping Lane, after the club’s possessions were removed.
Kathy complained to the East London Advertiser at the time: “We can’t even get back in to tidy up because they took away our keys and our vacuum cleaners which were bought with club funds.
"Our two computers were also removed and our office furniture dumped in the yard.”
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Kathy had been involved with the club for many years and was responsible for booking its weekly entertainment.
Her sister Sheila Smith, 76, who helped organise the campaign, paid her own tribute to the fighting grandmother.
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“Kathy did a lot for the community in Wapping,” Sheila said. “She was there for everyone and was always the first to sort things out, which is why she took up the fight with the council.
“We’ve had so many messages of condolence and lots of calls from the people of Wapping with cards and flowers."
The club, which was set up in 1973 at Raine’s House, was given notice to leave in 2018 to make way for council renovations of the historic building, the original site of the 300-year-old Raine’s Foundation School, to turn it into a "neighbourhood hub" to hire out.
But Kathy, who grew up in Wapping and Stepney before moving to Canvey, felt the pensioners were being priced out.
The club was shifted out to nearby Glamis Estate Tenants' Hall in Shadwell, but eventually closed during lockdown. The weekly bingo sessions are being resumed at the site as a tribute to Kathy, who was educated at Bishop Challoner Secondary and went on to a career with a housing association before retirement.
Kathy, who died at home in Canvey, leaves a husband Ray, 76, three children, Lorraine, Paul and Terry, and eight grandchildren. Her funeral is at Pitsea Crematorium on Friday, May 28, at 3pm.