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Obituary: Hampstead’s Pippa Pugh was at heart of literary party set

Pippa Pugh pictured at a street party outside her Hampstead home to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton Pippa Pugh pictured at a street party outside her Hampstead home to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

Sunday, February 16, 2014
9:00 AM

Pippa Pugh, who has died at the age of 92, lived in Hampstead all her adult life.

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She moved to a flat in Cannon Place in 1946 with husband Mick Catesby, who had left the Army after service in Africa and Italy.

He had been awarded the Military Cross for bravery during the siege of Monte Cassino.

Pippa and Mick married in 1944 in Devon and didn’t see each other again for three years.

During that time, Pippa worked as a theatre nurse in Exeter, but, with the war over, she was expected only to keep house for her husband, who found a job in the family business, Catesby’s lino and carpets, in Tottenham Court Road.

They had a child, Deborah, while at Cannon Place in 1947 and, with Pippa pregnant for a second time with Prue, they moved a short distance to East Heath Road and then to Platts Lane, on the other side of the Heath, where they had a third daughter, Julie.

Platts Lane became one of the venues for a group of young Hampstead parents who formed the Hampstead Playreading group, including Penelope (Mops) Fitzgerald – later a winner of the Booker Prize for her novel Offshore and subject of a recent biography by Hermione Lee. Celia Ramsey, another novelist, was also a member.

The Boxing Day party at 44 Platts Lane was a feature of their circle for many years and set a precedent for Pippa’s love of a good party, which went on and included her 92nd birthday on January 17 this year.

Pippa worked for about 20 years at the Royal Free Hospital as a volunteer in the speech therapy department. She was particularly involved with stroke patients after caring for Bill Pugh, her second husband, for many years.

Always interested in medical matters, she was employed as a receptionist for Dr Arning in Swiss Cottage.

She moved to Sandy Road, opposite the Bull and Bush, after marrying Bill Pugh in 1964.

She and her daughter Julie later moved to Bay Tree Cottage, a few doors along the road, where she stayed until she died on February 4.

Pippa (1922-2014) is survived by her daughters, Deb, Prue and Julie, by four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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