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Eileen Nolan, a ‘wonderful woman’ who battled for estate

Aged 91 and 5ft 3in, she threatened to chain herself to gates in safety campaign

22 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Eileen Nolan, a ‘good character and unwittingly funny’

A COMMITTED community activist who threatened to chain herself to the gates of her estate at the age of 91 in a fight for better safety conditions has died.

Eileen Nolan constantly looked out for elderly neighbours at the Popham 1 estate in Angel where she was a committee member of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Association.

She died on August 31 at North Middlesex Hospital aged 97.

Described as a “good character and unwittingly funny” by son Pete, and “a wonderful, strong woman” by daughter-in-law Pat, Ms Nolan was constantly on the phone to the council taking on neighbours’ cases well into her 90s.

One of her greatest achievements was helping to delay the installation of external gas pipes throughout the estate. She branded them dangerous because of how close they were to electrical wires.

The Town Hall delayed the work for six months, no doubt worried about the image of a 5ft 3in woman in her 90s chained to security gates, as she threatened to do. The pipes were ultimately installed but only after safety changes had been made.

Ms Nolan believed she and her neighbours should live in safe, clean and comfortable homes.

In later life, her passions were bingo and residents’ meetings.

TRA secretary Martin Rutherford fondly remembers Ms Nolan arriving at meetings with a notepad, ready to take down notes.

Eileen and Jack on their wedding day in 1946

“What was sweet about her was her eyesight was fading, but she didn’t let that get in her way,” he said.

“She couldn’t see to write in her notepad but she still had it to make her look important.”

Everyone would wave to the popular figure on the estate as she walked past, thankful for her work towards improving their community.

Her parents, Jim and Mabel Kilrow, lived in Stoke Newington. Her father was a street fighter who raised a family of eight with money won from his contests.

During World War II she joined the Salvation Army and then became a lookout, staying up all night to keep an eye out for approaching German bombers.

She went on to work at an ammunition factory in Stoke Newington High Street which became a motorbike parts factory after the war. She stayed there until she was 55.

In 1946, she wed Navy man Jack and they had a loving marriage until his death 35 years ago from cancer.

Her only child, Pete, was born in 1948 at the grand Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, which had been converted into a maternity ward.

Pete also lives on the Popham estate with wife Pat.

The estate became Ms Nolan’s home 20 years ago and she soon became a core member of the residents’ group.

Her last years were marked by sadness when she twice fell victim to burglars posing as workmen, who stole thousands of pounds from her home – the very thing she worked hard to prevent.

Her family say the shock caused a sharp decline in her health.

A memorial service takes place at 2pm on Monday at Islington Crematorium in East Finchley.

Friends and family are welcome to attend. A funeral cortege will leave at 1pm from Miller undertakers, in Essex Road.

Ms Nolan is survived by Pete, 69, Pat, 59, and grandchildren Jamie, Carl, Glenn, Faye and Liam.

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