Obituary: Tributes to ‘grandmother figure’ June Perrin who founded the Kingsgate Centre and dedicated her life to helping others
- Credit: Caroline O'Grady
The daughter of a West Hampstead stalwart has paid tribute to her mum as a tireless, determined campaigner.
June Perrin, who lived in the neighbourhood for decades, died on Christmas Eve at 87. In her life as an activist, she helped found the Kingsgate Centre in Kingsgate Road in 1982, as well as helping house the homeless and knitting clothes for premature babies in the borough.
Born in 1931, she spent her early years in Goodinge Road, Islington. She was evacuated to Penryn in Cornwall during the Second World War before returning to London, to West Hampstead, with her first husband, and father to three of her eventual four children, Stephen Rudd.
Tragically, she was widowed in her 30s.
“It was a very hard life,” said her daughter Caroline O’Grady. “Being widowed in the 1960s, there wasn’t very much help for her. You had to be really strong, and that’s when I think she started to reach out to other people and it was a turning point.”
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Caroline recalls June taking in homeless people, or people fleeing tough domestic situations.
“There was one family, a relative of a friend, who lived up in the Outer Hebrides,” she said. “She was in an abusive marriage, and had eight children. So my mum offered to take them in.
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“I was still a child, and living at home. It was packed! We couldn’t understand a word the children were saying, but we just got by.”
She later met her second husband, Frank Perrin, with whom she had another daughter.
One of her biggest legacies was helping found the Kingsgate Centre. Caroline said: “There was a need for a community centre and a place for people to gather.
“She noticed this derelict building in Kingsgate Road, and her, Frank, and others spent hours in there painting and getting it ready.”
Outside of her community activism, she was a bookkeeper for Wilson Dean in West Hampstead, having trained at night school.
She was also an active member of Kilburn and West Hampstead Pensioners Action Association and would help take pensioners out on day trips to the seaside, when she was in her 80s herself.
“I live in Eastbourne, and she would say ‘I’m taking the old people out to Brighton – do you want to come and meet me?’,” said Caroline.
A prolific knitter, she also made woollen clothes for premature babies, after Caroline’s son was born early.
“I was very proud of her,” she said. “She was a very warm, plump, tactful grandmother figure to so many people who knew her.”
She is survived by her husband Frank, her daughters Caroline, Alison and Joanne, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
June’s funeral will take place tomorrow (Fri) at Weeley Crematorium in Essex at 1.15pm.
Her family are asking for donations to St Helena’s Hospice in Colchester from those who knew her.