A woman who was involved with the Catholic church in York for more than six decades has died, aged 87.

Kitty Heslop, of Telford Terrace, South Bank, was born in Dublin in 1926, the eldest of nine children. She moved to York having married her husband Deric in 1951 after they met when he was on a rugby tour to Dublin.

In York, Mrs Heslop became actively involved in the Catholic church and worked for English Martyrs’ Church in Dalton Terrace as parish secretary for more than 30 years, combining this with her typist’s job at the Rowntree factory, where she worked for more than two decades.

The couple had seven children; Kevin, Sean, Brendan, Eamonn, Dermot, Carmel and the late Deidre, and 14 grandchildren. Sean said: “Their family were everything to them.

“As a family the children were involved in sport especially rugby and judo at the Railway Institute, New Lane, and Queen Street and this legacy continues today.

“I remember the family home in Telford Terrace as a hub of social activity. On one occasion, due to the church hall on Dalton Terrace being flooded, 37 children from the Northern Ireland Judo Team stayed there for a whole weekend, being fed and watered by my mum single-handed.”

Mrs Heslop was a member of the Union of Catholic Mothers for more than 50 years and the Catholic Women’s League for many years, too.

She was a founder member of the pro-life York Life Group.

It was for her unstinting voluntary work during the visit of Pope John Paul II to York in 1982 that she received the Benemerenti Medal from the church.

Mr Heslop was a coachbuilder and died of asbestos-related mesothelioma in 1991, aged 69.

After this Mrs Heslop became involved in the York Asbestos Support Group and actively campaigned on the issue.

There will be a service at English Martyrs on Wednesday at 6.30pm when Mrs Heslop will be received in to the church followed by a requiem mass at 10.30am the following day and burial at Fulford Cemetery at 11.30am.