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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 29 November 2007

Peggie Preston spent her life helping the victims of war and injustice
Anti-war stalwart searched for peace

VETERAN anti-war campaigner Peggie Pres­ton, who has died aged 84, travelled the world on the trail of peace and justice.
Ms Preston, who lived in Wild Street, Covent Garden, went to Johannesburg during the years of apartheid, Saigon during the American invasion of Vietnam and Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991.
She proposed fellow anti-war campaigner Brian Haw as an independent candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster at the 2005 general election and spent Christmas Day with him protesting in Parliament Square.
A lifelong Labour stalwart, Peggie cancelled her party membership in disgust following the US and British invasion of Iraq.
In February 2007 she visited 10 Downing Street representing a group of mothers who had lost their children in the war.
She worked as a teenager in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, Lincolnshire, in 1941.
Working in the depths of an air base from her grandparents” home in Scotland, she was tasked with “spoofing” – where telephonists had to give phoney instructions to confuse the Nazis.
In an interview with the West End Extra in 2005, she reflected: “We were told during the Second World War that this was the war to end all wars and I believed it like everyone else.
“We found out distressingly quickly this was not at all true.”
Following the war she travelled the world as an aid-worker until 1960 when she went to South Africa to work as an occupational therapist.
She worked in the country’s largest hospital for black patients, Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg.
There she experienced first-hand the aftermath of a terrible shooting in Sharpeville where scores of black people were shot dead by police while protesting peacefully.
Her experience made caring for the war-wounded a vocation and she travelled to Vietnam in 1968 working with refugees, strike victims and children with polio – on a mission to “share with others their experiences” and help them with her medical training.
Returning to Covent Garden after the troops were withdrawn, Peggie worked for the Quakers and other charitable organisations, as well as hospitals, as a medical professional.
She campaigned in Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square and was regularly seen sipping her tea in Café in the Crypt in the basement of St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
Maria Gallastegui, a close friend and ally of Brian Haw and Peggie, said: “I spoke to her on Friday and she sounded in great form.
“She was like a teenager and said she was looking forward to Christmas.”
Tom Foot

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