Lily, Penge East Station Cat
Lily, a friendly tortoise-shell cat, took up residence at Penge East Station every day for many years. She was a much-loved and familiar sight to passengers and station staff and there was an outpouring of grief when she died at the age of twelve in December, 2020. Funds are being raised to establish a memorial plaque and statue.
Helen Hughes, who lived with Lily, tells the story:
I wonder whether Lily, Penge East Station Cat, was so compassionate because of her tough early life. Abandoned and starving, she was rescued by the Celia Hammond charity and then when healed, she came to live with us in Penge with two of her kittens.
For many years she was a sweet yet feisty domestic cat living with Helen and her sons and over the years their extended family of friends and then new family. Lily was always the house matriarch and took her unique quirky style to Penge East station. Following Helen on her morning daily commute, Lily enjoyed the attention of the passengers on the platform.
Once Lily had discovered the affection and treats of the station staff, there was no turning back. Lily would wake us up at 5.30am to be let out (she knew how to use the cat flap but preferred our personal attention). She would wander along to Penge East Station, waiting outside to be let in for her second breakfast.
Her day was spent snoozing in her special chairs, playing with the many toys bought for her, eating treats (including from a passenger who would occasionally bring her Marks and Spencer cooked chicken), sitting on the oyster reader and generally keeping a close eye on business.
So many people have said that Lily had a special way of knowing when someone could do with a bit of extra attention. And when Lily needed something, she would often sit on the ticket office keyboard, guaranteed to get in the way of the staff so her wishes would be attended to. She was a mouser and would often bring her treats back to the station staff.
Lily would wander home when she fancied it. She always liked varying her routine, stopping off at other people’s houses, the slimming club, wherever her spirit took her. Often, she would be waiting under the railway stairs in the evening, coming out when she saw us wandering out to see where she was.
Lily was 12 when she became unwell and after a few months died in December 2020. Hundreds of people mourned her loss and sent personal memories of how she had brightened their day. A man unknown to us said he was a middle-aged commuter writing a message with moist eyes, feeling that a little bit of Penge had died. Sometimes it is harder to feel a sense of community living in a city. Lily was well known to thousands and maybe she helped us connect to each other a little better.
The suggestion of a memorial has been greeted by massive support and very generous donations. With a little plaque, Lily will be commemorated in bronze with a life-size statue on the Up platform. She is buried in our back garden in St John’s Road, but her soul will live on where she loved to be, at Penge East Station.
14th Feb 2021
‘Lily, who has left a paw-print on many a local heart and a true Penge legend.’ – Cecile Duerinckx
If you’d like to make a donation to Lily’s memorial plaque and statue, please follow the link: