A tribute to Mary Finch

Focus E15 campaigners were very sad to learn about the death of Mary Finch who was an inspiration to us all, a real fighter for housing justice and an amazing woman who lived on Carpenters Estate. We are sending our thoughts and love to Mary’s family, friends and neighbours at this difficult time.

A tribute to Mary Finch by Sally Grey from Blueprint Theatre

Mary Finch was a thorn in the side of Newham Council who knew that as long as she lived, they would not be able to remove her from her home of almost 50 years.

A vociferous campaigner since the Carpenters estate first appeared on the radar of developers, Mary fought off bids by a host of shady organisations, attracting attention from around the world with her feisty character and determination to protect her community from profiteers. She and her loving husband, Brian, understood the need for more homes on the estate. They also knew that didn’t mean anyone should have to give theirs up and they recognised the senselessness of 400 empty homes left to rot in a community once thriving.

Such was the force of her spirit that she features in 3 plays written about the area. Mary was the hero of our play, Legacy, which wouldn’t exist without her and she featured in Land of the Three Towers and E15. She was also the subject of several dissertations and made appearances in the local and national press.

It is said our work is not about individuals but about the bigger cause. This is true but there would be no bigger cause without the individuals fighting for it; so, whilst Mary was speaking for all on the Carpenters, she was aware of the strength of character and personality required to take on the council, the university and the private developers. She knew that it took someone special; that at the heart of every cause, there are exceptional individuals. And Mary Finch was one in a million.

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