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Karen Childs, upbeat music publicist who ‘stretched life to the limit’

She toured pubs and clubs as vocalist for Those Girls

01 March, 2020 — By Angela Cobbinah

THE last many people saw of Karen Childs, who has died aged 60 following a long illness, was on TV in a BBC London news item featuring her as the first person in the world to undergo a trial for a revolutionary new treatment for cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in December.

Looking as upbeat as ever and sporting her characteristic Ziggy Stardust hairstyle in honour of her favourite singer David Bowie, the former music PR admitted from her hospital bed that the process was “nerve-wracking” but also “very exciting” because it held the hope of eliminating the daunting side effects of chemotherapy.

“That was Karen all over, she was someone who always kept her head up and made the most of any opportunity,” said her younger sister Julia. “She was so ready for a chat and a laugh that most people had no idea what she was actually going through.”

Sadly, Karen died a few weeks later on January 19 at the Royal Free Hospital with Julia at her side. She’d been successfully treated there for cancer of the colon and liver in 2013 but the disease returned two years ago.

Nevertheless, she continued to spread cheer as a hospital volunteer, particularly in the library.

The eldest of two children, Karen grew up in St Albans before moving to London aged 16 and eventually settling in Lymington Road, West Hampstead.

With an abiding passion for all things music and ever the free spirit, she toured the pubs and clubs as vocalist for goth punk band Those Girls in her 20s, using her inside know-how of the industry to work as an independent publicist for a number of up-and-coming indie bands, including Prolapse.

Work with another outfit, Bellatrix, would see her flying to and from their Iceland base.

A keen Labour Party supporter, Karen was a woman of many interests.

A lifelong Chelsea fan, the music at her packed funeral at St Albans Cathedral on February 11 included a live instrumental rendition of club anthem Blue is the Colour.  Art was another passion and she would spend hours visiting art galleries and exhibitions.

Illness cut short her studies for a Masters in art history at Birkbeck but the college is to award her a posthumous postgraduate certificate in the subject in April.

“Karen was a remarkable person who stretched her life to the absolute limit,” said Julia.

“While undergoing the clinical trial she became involved in Royal Marsden’s radio station as a DJ, and even managed to see Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge a week before her death. We are heartbroken as a family.”



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