Cathy Pelly
Cathy Pelly

The Cathy Pelly Trust was established in 1985, to perpetuate the ideals of an Auckland schoolgirl, Cathy Pelly, who was found dead after swimming in a river near her school in Devon, England.

It is registered NZ Charity CC52681.

The aim of the Trust is to “Assist persons or groups, especially young people, who with a degree of risk to themselves and as part of a quest for a new spirituality, are working for social change between women and men, people of different races, poor and rich; and who are working for the abolition of nuclear weapons”.

Who was Cathy Pelly?  This tribute, from her funeral in 1984, gives an insight into what made her special.

A wise friend said to me: “Don’t idolize Cathy. Just try to meet her in her humanity.” That was good advice. Yet Cathy was an extraordinary person. She had done more in her short life than many adults, and gained a greater maturity. The reading from Revelation 21:1 – 7 was chosen because it expresses the prophetic vision of a new heaven and a new earth, a new world in which all things can be made new, which Cathy discovered for herself in so costly a way.

I don’t think it would be to idolize Cathy to say that fundamentally she was a visionary with exceptional strength of character, a person with the courage and the ability, moreover, to act out her vision. The tragedy of Cathy is that all the promise so many people saw in her cannot now be realized in her own life.

Yes, Cathy had the strength and vision of a beloved child – because that is what she was from the moment she was born. I remember her as a little girl, barely able to walk, gathering together a heap of interesting muddy stones in front of the Sailing Club in Orford Suffolk. After a while one of us tried to persuade her to come home. Cathy resisted fiercely, refusing to budge and went on with what she was doing. Someone in the Sailing Club observing this scene said jokingly: “That child will be the Prime Minister one day!” Cathy often seemed uncertain and unconfident on the surface. But underneath she had amazing strength and determination. I think I can honestly say I have never seen Cathy give up or let go of anything that really mattered to her.

Read the full Tribute to Cathy Pelly.