Elisabeth Pilkington grew up in the Lancashire countryside of the UK, overlooking the industrial town of St Helens which four generations of Pilkington Brothers, the family glass­ manufacturing business, had transformed into the Mecca of UK flat-glass production.

At the outbreak of WWII, Elisabeth served her country for two years as a Red Cross nurse in a Manchester army hospital followed by Social Science studies at London School of Economics. The School had been evacuated to Cambridge for the duration of the war, it was at this time she met the young Romanian postgraduate student and diplomat, Ion Raţiu, who was studying for a second degree in Economics on a British Council Scholarship following his refusal to return to Marshall Antonescu's Nazi aligned Romania in 1941.

The couple were married at the Savoy Chapel in London's West End in 1945. Elisabeth immediately took out Romanian citizenship, fully expecting to accompany her husband back to postwar Romania to campaign in the 1946 general election. But Ion, who had already showed disturbing signs of tuberculosis prior to their marriage, collapsed in the autumn of 1946 and entered a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland.

In 1990 her life was to be turned upside down yet again. After the fall of Ceauşescu, Elisabeth chose without hesitation to accompany her husband back to Romania and to an uncertain future. She participated in Ion's 1990 presidential campaign and courageously experienced first- hand the brutal bullying tactics of the Romanian National Salvation Front in its efforts to quash all opposition to its neo­ communist candidate Ion Iliescu.

The daily stream of desperate health cases at Elisabeth Bucharest front­ door led to the establishment in 1993 of Fundaţia RaţiuRomania, with the initial goal of providing treatment, in Romania, for children and young people suffering from leukemia. So successful was the Foundation's leukemia program that after only seven years, by 2000, the Romanian government had installed three bone­ marrow transplant units and taken on full responsibility for the care of childhood leukemia cases in the country.
Elisabeth retired from her board supervisory role in Fundaţia Raţiu in 2006, handing over to her sons Nicolae (president) and lndrei (board member). Since the death of her husband Ion in 2000, she has once again made London her home, where she continues to maintain a lively interest in the activities of the Raţiu Family Foundation, the Raţiu Democracy Center and Fundaţia Raţiu. In recent years Elisabeth's work has been recognized by awards from several organizations: Bucharest Business Week, the President of Romania and the US State Department, for work with the Disabled.