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Published: 29 January 2009

Mandy Fernie , left, with former mayor Jill Fraser, congregation member Jeannie Hopper and former St Michael’s priests Father Malcolm Hunter and Nicholas Wheeler (right) after the 2006 rooftop vigil
‘Mandy helped the most vulnerable’

Tributes following death of woman who helped homeless and battled to save church roof

CLERGYMEN and parishioners have paid tribute to a volunteer who cared for the homeless and helped save a church roof.
Mandy Fernie, 45, volunteered as a church warden at St Michael’s in Camden Road and regularly gave up her nights to help at the Winter Night Shelter for those living on the streets.
Ms Fernie, who had battled against alcohol addiction, was found dead by her partner on New Year’s Day after they had spent the evening celebrating at his home.
She was praised by St Michael’s team rector Reverend Philip North for her ability to “turn suffering in her own life into compassion for ­others”.
He added: “Mandy’s life was in many ways a tough one. She had a difficult childhood and often struggled to find her way.
“However, she found a dignity in the church that she found nowhere else. Many of the most vulnerable people in our community have benefited from her care.”
Speaking from Brazil, Father Nicholas Wheeler, a former priest at St Michael’s who has moved to Rio de Janiero as the city’s Priest Missioner, said: “Mandy was one of the most significant people in the renewal of St Michael’s.”
At an inquest held earlier this month the cause of Ms Fernie’s death could not be established as pathologists were awaiting blood test results. St Pancras coroner Dr Andrew Reid said Ms Fernie had a “history of high alcohol intake” and revealed that her children had been taken into care.
Two years ago Ms Fernie, from Ingestre Road in Kentish Town, appeared in the New Journal with former Camden mayor councillor Jill Fraser after she joined the fight to raise money to fix the church roof at St Michael’s. Ms Fernie was one of a group of people who spent 10 days and nights on the roof in a bid to support former St Michael’s priest Father Malcolm Hunter.
As a result of those long days and nights they raised more than £100,000 to replace the leaky roof and helped kickstart an overhaul of the whole Grade II-listed building.
A collection for Ms Fernie, held shortly after her death, raised more than £1,000. Church members hope it can be included in funds to build a new café area.
Father North said: “It was made very clear just how precious Mandy was to people last Sunday when we held a collection towards a memorial.”
A service was held in her memory this week.

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