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The Life and Times of London Italians - Teresa Fiori Chapman MBE OBE

From Buenos Aires to Buckingham Palace for tenacious Terry

In the first of a series of articles celebrating the lives of London Italians, the spotlight falls on Teresa (Terry) Fiori Chapman, who was bestowed with the honours of MBE in 1980 and OBE in 2005 in recognition of her service to the Argentine-British Community.

One of five children born in London, Terry remembers Luftwaffe fighters flying over her school and strafing the playing grounds before being sent, with her younger sister Anita Fiori Negri, to Kettering to get away from the VI Buzz Bombs.

Terry fell in love with her first husband, Enrique Gatti, an Argentinian Naval Engineer who had been sent to England by the Argentinian Government to provide advice and assistance.

Terry married her beloved Enrique and his career involved moving back to Argentina after a spell in Montfacore, Italy. Sadly Enrique suffered complications after being treated for an ulcer and passed away, having been married 7 years. A few years later Terry met, fell in love and then married her second husband Willy Chapman, and they were blessed with two children. Terry managed to combine running a home, and raising Christopher and Denise with working for the British Community Council and also worked for many years for the scalabrini fathers,  fund raising for their home "apostleship of the sea - stella maris" by holding dinner dances with a group of catholic british community ladies. After 34 years of marriage sadly Willy left Terry to form another family. Being the battler she is, Terry not only overcame heartbreak for the second time, but also fought and conquered breast cancer.

Teresa Fiori Chapman 

Terry holidays as frequently as she can, visiting her sister Anita in Volpi, Pellegrino, Parmense catching up with her relatives and friends based there, in addition to those many relatives returning from London on the annual summer “pilgrimage” during July and August which sees so many North London Anglo-Italians return to their roots.

As she approaches her 80th birthday in July 2010, Terry treated herself to a brief trip to London with her daughter Denise, en-route to Italy.  40 or 50 members of her family in London celebrated her birthday on a glorious day in May in typical style with a Sunday lunch which continued into late evening!  Terry is an Anglo-Italian of whom we can all be proud.

Please contribute to Backhill online by submitting details of the life and times of any Anglo-Italians you’d like to see featured (and who are willing to have their story published!).

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