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Deirdre Chapin (1924-2020)

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A war veteran and widow who was inspired by her triumph over illness to do voluntary work abroad has died. Deirdre Chapin was 95.

David Thompson, the president of Bermuda Overseas Missions, where she was a volunteer, said that Ms Chapin's last trip with the group was to Zambia in 2011.

He added: “She was an incredible woman and an inspiration, especially to the younger folk.

“These trips were hard manual labour for families in need.

“There was Deirdre, who would always say not to do her any favours because of her age.”

Mr Thompson said Ms Chapin's one stipulation was she would not climb on to roofs.

He added: “I was always amazed at how few things she took on these trips. She knew how to take care of herself.”

Mr Thompson said Ms Chapin had an “absolutely amazing sense of humour” as she and other volunteers roughed it, often in remote areas.

Ms Chapin told The Royal Gazette in a 2006 interview: “I'm a cancer survivor and I have had a quadruple bypass [heart surgery].

“I think it's because my philosophy of life is live each day to the fullest, and if I can help somebody along the way I do.

“That's what I think inspired me to help people who have less than I do.”

Ms Chapin, a former librarian, was speaking just before she headed for Eastern Europe.

She had joined other volunteers the year before to build houses in Botswana in southern Africa.

She told the Gazette: “I think the thing is, I have been given a second chance to live.”

Ms Chapin credited tennis with keeping her fit in later years.

She was descended from the Anglo-Irish peerage, the daughter of Donough O'Brien, the 16th Baron of Inchiquin, and Anne Molyneux Thesiger, whose father was English aristocrat Viscount Chelmsford.

She married Horace Chapin in April 1954.

Ms Chapin served in the Second World War in the Women's Royal Naval Service from 1943 to 1946, in Britain and overseas in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. She was a parishioner at Christ Church in Warwick, where her funeral service was held last Friday.

Last year, Ms Chapin was awarded two medals and a pin for her war service and laid the wreath at the church's war memorial for Remembrance Day.

Mr Chapin, a doctor, died in 1992.

Deirdre Chapin last year with her medals for serving in the Second World War (Photograph courtesy of Christ Church, Warwick)
Deirdre Chapin, from the National Portrait Galley in London (Photograph from online)
Deirdre Chapin sifts sand for house building during one of ther many trips with Bermuda Overseas Missions (File photograph)

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Published May 14, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 14, 2020 at 7:54 am)

Deirdre Chapin (1924-2020)

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