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Atsuko McCarthy, hardworking, selfless woman of letters

She regularly volunteered for the Church of St Anselm and St Cecilia in Lincoln’s Inn Fields

29 September, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Atsuko McCarthy in Tokyo

DESCRIBED as selfless, driven and determined, a regular New Journal letter writer and childminder, Atsuko McCarthy, has died aged 55.

She read the New Journal cover to cover each week and contributed letters on topics ranging from anti-social behaviour to buses, always writing with scrutiny and sensitivity.

More recently she wrote in paying tribute to Barnaby, the Sainsbury’s cashier who died last year, and a letter this year called on the council to reinstate the plaque commemorating teen stab victim Richard Everitt in Somers Town.

Atsuko even featured on the New Journal front page with her husband John McCarthy in 1997, signing a petition against the sell-off of the London Underground with MP Frank Dobson.

She and John met at a language class in Kilburn where they were both learning German.

They moved into their home in Ossulston Street together in 1997. Atsuko was president of the Beatles Fan Club in Japan and moved to Camden to be near the famous Abbey Road.

She named her son Sean after John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s son. Atsuko was a keen singer herself.

Her husband John said: “She had a voice that would make your hair stand on end when she sang.”

Although from a Buddhist family, .

She helped run the choir there where her son Sean used to sing as a 10-year-old.

She would also watch Catholic Church services broadcast on TV.

Described as determined and focused, she studied child psychology when in Japan and on arrival in the UK began working as a childminder for families in the Japanese community in north London.

Sean remembers Atsuko arriving home from a shift in the evening to cook dinner for her family before making her way out again to another job.

He said: “All of the kids loved her. She would do so much. All the money she got from childminding would only rarely go on stuff for herself. All the money would go on me and my sister. She was selfless. She worked hard every year.”

Outside of work Atsuko enjoyed the occasional holiday to Belgium, France and Switzerland and enjoyed photographing the landscapes.

She grew up in rural Japan and was the only member of her family to move abroad.

She was proud of being Japanese while also taking a keen interest in British culture.

She drank tea from Fortnum & Masons from mugs with the Royal Family printed on them. Atsuko died from cancer.

Her funeral took place earlier this month at Golders Green Crematorium. She leaves her son Sean, 24, daughter Kennedy, 22, and husband John.

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