Fight goes on for Harris Orphanage after campaign leader dies at 62

Conservationists have vowed the fight will go on to save Preston's Harris Orphanage complex despite the death of campaign leader Prema Taylor.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 4:05 pm

The retired lawyer lost a brave year-long battle with cancer at the age of just 62.

And supporters say they are even more determined than ever to continue fighting a housing development in memory of the woman who inspired them all.

Prema's funeral cortege will make a brief stop outside the gates of Harris Park in Fulwood on the way to the city's crematorium on Wednesday (11:45am).

Prema pictured when she launched another campaign in July last year - this time to stop the NHS throwing away millions of pounds of prescription medicines.

Scores of people are expected to line Garstang Road to pay their respects and say farewell.

Joanne Adams, who took over at the helm of the campaign last month when Prema became too ill to continue, said: "Despite the pain she was in and the low energy reserves she suffered with she never gave up.

"Even on her admittance to St. Catherine’s Hospice at the beginning of December she still wanted to be kept up to date with everything.

"I talked to her via FaceTime from her bed just before Christmas about where we were up to and assured her we would carry on our campaign to find a sustainable future for Harris Park - a future the whole community could enjoy and benefit from, a future that would have the heritage and wishes of Edmund Harris at its heart."

Prema was passionate about preserving the historic Harris Park site.

The two women became close friends after Joanne answered Prema's post on Facebook launching the campaign to halt housing plans for the historic orphanage site and its cricket field.

"I private messaged her to offer my help and we met on the corner of Kings Drive the very next day," said Joanne. "We both realised very quickly that that this campaign was going to take more than one objection to a planning application. We had a shared passion and energy to achieve a future for this special place.

"Her energy amazed me. She was full of community spirit and volunteered for all sorts of activities - work in charity shops, fundraising for local charities, helping to organise activities in her neighbourhood.

"Prema was a huge inspiration to me. Her calm but determined approach to matters is something I hope to emulate.

Prema was described as 'a huge inspiration.'

"She didn’t entertain gossip and remained dignified and polite in all the matters she dealt with.

"We promise, Prema, we will carry on and do our very best."

Prema, who lived in Fulwood, was diagnosed with cancer 13 months ago, just weeks after speaking at a planning committee meeting to overturn an initial application for housing on the Harris Park site.

"She learned in March that her prognosis was terminal, but was determined to carry on the campaign and didn't want her illness made public," said Joanne.

Prema set up a Facebook group called Friends of Harris Park where a message she wrote just days before her death has been posted.

It reads: "I have lived a wonderful life. Had the privilege of meeting so many inspirational people. Experienced the wonders of the world. Been surrounded by the love of my immediate and extended family and some wonderful friends. Been lucky to get bailed out of various scrapes in my life - many of which I will not share with my darling daughter!

"I leave with no regrets. Regrets are pointless. Life is never perfect. Some things cannot be fixed and the only thing in those circumstances is to be able to say you tried.

"Remember me with love and please gGloss over my mistakes and imperfections. I'd rather you laughed together at amusing memories than shed tears at my passing."