Memorial legacy at Raine's House honours campaigner Kathy Bracken
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A memorial has been unveiled to campaigner Kathy Bracken at Raines House in Wapping where she took on the council when the pensioners’ club was being evicted.
Kathy, who died from cancer in May, campaigned to stop Tower Hamlets Council’s notice-to-quit and staged a pensioners' demo when the club’s possessions were removed from the building.
She led a delegation to the town hall in 2018 with a petition against being “priced out” of the council's new refurbishment scheme for Raine's House.
“She stood up for what she believed in,” he daughter Lorraine Bracken said at the memorial unveiling.
“Mum was determined, strong-willed and the voice of many, who fought for this historic club for the OAPs and the community, a giant character who made everyone feel welcome — but stood no nonsense.
Kathy died from cancer aged 73 after being taken ill at the height of the Covid crisis.
“This was one battle she couldn’t win,” Lorraine added.
Kathy, a retired housing association officer, had mobilised pensioners with demos outside the historic centre in Raine Street, off Wapping Lane, after the club was evicted.
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Her sister Sheila Smith, 76, who helped organise her campaign, said at the time: “She was always the first to sort things out, which is why she took up the fight with the council.”
The club had been running since 1973, but was given notice in 2018 to make way for renovations to turn the 300-year-old listed building into a “neighbourhood hub” for hiring, which was beyond the pensioners’ means.
Mayor John Biggs, who unveiled Kathy’s memorial plaque and bench, said this week: “This allows us to remember her and all the good work she carried out. I am pleased we can honour her this way to allow her legacy to live on.”
Kathy’s husband Ray, 76, and her sister and daughter were at the unveiling. She had three children and eight grandchildren.
Raine’s House, the original site of Raine’s Foundation School, opened in 1719 and continues as a community centre after its refurbishment, with the memorial bench part of the legacy that tells Kathy’s story.