The Whistler – August 2010

Pam Bean
Pam Bean 1922 - 2010 Sad to have lost, glad to have known

No Contest

From the time I moved into the Community 18 years ago, I was aware of a dynamic figure. A slight, but vigorous, woman who moved like a streak of greased lightning along the streets of West Hill. And then it was her conversation which fascinated, well-read and travelled, she contributed points of interest to any chat.

The lasting remembrance in my garden is how she helped to rid my lawn of rambling buttercup. Sitting quietly one day having a cup of tea, she suddenly leapt to her feet and systematically and energetically dug over a postage stamp of grass in my garden, where the damned weed had taken over. “You’ve got to get the whole root”. It was no contest. Pam identified and uprooted the invaders and only sat down again when she was satisfied they were vanquished. Hurrah for Pamela Bean.

Sylvia Alexander-Vine

Letters to The Whistler

Dear Editor
I was very disappointed that I did not  get any replies to my letter in the Feb/March issue of The Whistler, regarding the loss of contact with my grandchildren due to a family breakdown. Surely there must be people who your readers know to whom it has happened? It does not necessarily have to be in our Whistler area – anywhere in Brighton, Hove or the surrounding areas. Please could you let me know if you know of anyone? It does not have to be family, it could be friends or maybe people with whom you work. Here is our story…

Five years ago our daughter’s first marriage broke up and she met her present partner. She has a daughter from her first marriage who we were always able to see from the time she was born. After a few months our daughter got pregnant with her new partner and we were told that we would not see this child. That was devastating for us. We accepted it, as, at the time, we did not have the resources to fight it.

After nearly 5 years we decided to go to court to get access to the youngest granddaughter. We managed to get legal aid for a good solicitor and barrister. It took 14 months of court cases before we were finally given access to her. At first, we had to go to a contact  centre, as our little granddaughter did not know us.

Thankfully, it all went well and we now see her once a month and our other granddaughter every other weekend as she is with her dad the other times. The court case was mentally very upsetting, but thanks to family and friends, and the support of two grandparent websites we got through,( We were horrified to see that there are millions of grandparents who have tried to gain access to no avail, due to all the costs. If you would like to hear any more about this story we would love to tell you. Please email me on  

Celia Steer

Pam Bean In Her Own Words

Chris Such, wrote this moving tribute to his mother, Pam, which was read by Liz Smith at Pam’s Service of Thanks Giving on 24 May 2010 as if Pam were talking to us.

Pam Bean
Pam Bean

Hello, gosh, what a lot of people. Goodness, you’re not all here for me are you? I’ve got nowhere near enough for you to eat, but I think I’ve got something in the fridge.

Mum always had something for people in the old days in Grantham. We had miners, marching down from Yorkshire, and those poor people from Jarrow, walking all the way to London; Mum always found something for them. She was proud when I got to the High School, the Grantham & Kesteven High School for Girls, and even prouder when I was acting Head Girl. Mum always made sure I took care of the younger girls. There was one girl, Margaret Roberts, I took her to school; not that I enjoyed it. Talk about bossy, but then she did become Prime Minister.

I did quite well at school. I don’t like to boast but I was the only girl in the year who got an Oxford School Certificate, 8 credits at, well, you’d call it GCSEs now. I liked everything, especially hockey, but then the war came. We dug up the school hockey pitch and planted cabbages. Dad gave me the seedlings to plant, he was a great gardener. He was a teacher, so I suppose I wanted to be a teacher too. I’m sorry that Marje, and Olive and Bar aren’t here, it’s too far to travel at their age. They were at the High School, we were friends for over 70 years, used to speak to Marje regularly, a true friend. And Susie of course. She was a refugee from Germany, she came to stay with Mum, when I moved down to Leicester, to study Domestic Science. She was like a sister to me.

I liked it in Leicester. I was in digs, a lovely house. Dad bought me a new bike, a Raleigh. Once after a party, I cycled through the night back to Grantham, thirty miles. I don’t know why I did it, just felt like it, the freedom of it. I got home for breakfast. Usually there were soldiers staying; once they’d come from Dunkirk, Mum used to put them up. And they were so hungry, but we fed them somehow. Dad was in the Home Guard, he couldn’t move too well because of the wound he got in the First World War. He grew vegetables, we weren’t hungry, not like some. Mum and Dad made friends with a German prisoner of war called Fritz, and I’m still friendly with his son Thomas, after more than 60 years.

I had a boyfriend all that time, Terry, nice boy but a bit slow; and I liked my cousin Desmond, he looked so good in his Navy uniform. I had plenty to do, I was President of the Students’ Union. I used to make speeches to the Old Girls who came back to see us, they seemed very old to me then. I got my Diploma in 1943, and went to work as a domestic science teacher at Southend High School for Girls. I liked the teaching, and they asked me to organise the school meals as well, meals for four hundred.

I met Arthur not long after. He was a greengrocer, and a fireman in the war. The firemen shared part of the school buildings and he must have seen me. He was a shy man but he came in with an apple, singing ‘an apple for the teacher’. He was sweet, and as Terry hadn’t said anything, I married Arthur. He was older than me, and his Mum didn’t see eye to eye with my parents, but we were happy, especially when Chris was born. I worked in the shop and I taught evening classes. I used to take Chris and cousin Ron down to Cornwall to see Mum and Dad who retired to Praa Sands, we loved it there.

We moved to Brighton in 1958. Arthur wanted a post office. It was right outside the station in Terminus Road, and I worked there, first in the grocery and then in the post office for 24 years. In all that time, I never had a garden or allotment, only indoor plants, I don’t know how I stood it, but I made up for it later. They made me Honorary President of the Brighton Organic Garden Society, would you believe? Mouse and Ruth and Helen. Lovely of them.

Arthur died in 1964. We were dancing at the Grand Hotel, he was a lovely dancer, ballroom dancing, he taught me how to dance. He just slipped down and died, on the dance floor. Hard days. I had a business to run, husband to bury and son at boarding school. I wept nights then. Two years alone, but then my luck changed. I was in Paris, I loved Paris, and everything French. I won school prizes in French; it’s lovely speaking French, isn’t it? That’s where I met Fred. We hit it off. What a charmer, so good looking. We got married in St Nicholas where I went in those days. We must have loved each other because we were together for thirty six years. And Fred’s family came along with him, three lovely children, Valerie, Mike and Roger. I was a really lucky girl. I ran the post office and Fred ran the shop. Some of the old biddies couldn’t make it round to the post office, so I delivered their pensions myself, I met lots of people that way. I was amazed when I got the BEM for services to the post office. It was nothing, just helping people out a bit.

I don’t know why, I could turn my hand to anything. I loved dancing, not ballroom with Fred, but I could dance like a Cossack, you know, squatting, arms folded, kicking your legs out, and belly dancing too, what fun. I loved running, for the joy of it, skipping along with Mikala and Jolene. I learned German, and had lovely holidays there. I learned copper plate writing so I could do posters. And sign language so I could talk to a deaf and blind friend. I never liked to stand still. There was the Pilots Club, then Amica, it was lovely doing all those things together and raising money for charities at the same time. And the lunches and sales round at the West Hill Hall, goodness me, lunches for fifty, how did I manage it in that kitchen?

When we retired in 1982, we took an allotment at Tenantry Down, near the Race Course. Fred wasn’t a gardener, but he dug the chalky soil and had bonfires. Poor old Fred, he had so many things wrong with him, blind and deaf at the end, I took care of him for years, finding him things to do. He was like me, never still. When he died in 2003, Father Robert came to see me, such a comfort, so kind to me and Chris. I’ve been at St Michael’s ever since. Only a few weeks ago I managed to get in on a Sunday, and Father Robert gave me communion on my own, after the main service, so kind. They all are, the Fathers, Robert, Gareth, Raymonde, and Mark.

When I couldn’t drive any more, I had to give up Tenantry Down, I moved to Chris’s allotment at Horsdean. But you know, one day I went up to the old place on the bus, and I thought, I’ll just take those bits and pieces back home. I’ll use the barrow, so I loaded it with a few things and set off, it’s downhill from there isn’t it? But then uphill when you get to the Level. I was 84 at the time, but I never felt myself to be an old woman, and I did it alright. Some people gave me a few looks, but then when you get on in years, you don’t care about that, do you?

I was a bit shocked when I found I had cancer, but I had some good times and everyone was so kind to me, especially my friends Gina, and Jan, and Claire and Terry, I can’t mention you all, there wouldn’t be time, but thanks to you all. No, I couldn’t recommend what I had, avoid it if you can dear, but if you have to go, the Martlets is a wonderful place to ease your path. Wonderful.

Oh, are you still here? Sorry to drone on, but now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m a bit busy, I’ve got some mince pies to make. A special request, very special this time.

Memories of Pam Bean

“There’s rosemary; that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

Pam ‘at home’ on her allotment
Pam ‘at home’ on her allotment

I first met Pam in 1961 when I opened a hairdressing salon in Surrey Street. This busy little lady was running the Post Office and cooking fantastic hams for their delicatessen. Years passed; she heard that I was worried because I couldn’t collect my sons from school in Southwick as it was the end of the term and they were going to break up at lunch time. “Don’t worry” said Pam, “I know the school. I will collect them.” So, in her busy life, that is what she did. Our community had a great place in her life, and I feel privileged to have counted Pam as a friend. I hope wherever she is, that Pam is sorting out their allotments.
Yvonne Parks
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I remember Pam as far as back as the 1960s when my mother and I used to live in Guildford Road, just round the corner from the Post Office in which Pam worked as the Post Mistress. I recall one occasion when she advised me to get a ‘proper job’, meaning a trade. I eventually got a job as an electrical apprentice, which stood me in good stead for the rest of my working life. Thanks for the advice Pam.
Reg Woodhouse
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“There goes Runner Bean” my Dad would say (an affectionate name we had for Pam) as she whizzed by our window. The term was not just because of her love for growing things, but for her agility and zest for life as she took on so much, putting most of us to shame. I miss her very much as I often passed her on my way down the hill to work as she was returning up the hill from her early morning swim and work out. She and Fred helped my Quiz team once to win the Quiz, at long last, which we had been trying to do for ages, as they were both well-travelled and were a mine of information. Thank you Pam for all you did, and I think of you every time I pass the fuchsia in your garden. Remembered with affection.
Carol Simmons
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I have known Pam Bean since first coming to West Hill Street (about 23 years ago) through all the sales she organised and held in the West Hill Community Hall. I was a keen customer, always coming home laden with plants and veg grown on the allotment she had with her late husband, Fred. She had amazing enthusiasm, energy and organisational skills and if it weren’t for Pam, things like the Grand Sales and the Lunch Club would never have happened.

She was also responsible for the ‘Volunteer Gardeners’ which she started with Fred.

Pam Bean's plaque
This plaque was created by Jo Martin and will decorate the Hall to commemorate Pam & Fred.

After he died, the Hall garden was neglected for a few years but then Pam got together a small group of volunteers to create the garden that you can now see around the West Hill Hall with lovely flowers, plants and shrubs in the front and a Wild Garden at the back with many different herbs, wild flowers, tomatoes, rhubarb and anything that encourages butterflies, bees and birds. We have two compost bins, a large one we made ourselves out of wooden pallets (after having first hacked out a large tree root with a pick axe) and a smaller plastic one. We also have a shredder and shred all our garden waste for composting.

I first joined the group around March 2009. Pam would pass my house on her way to and from the garden, always pushing her famous wheelbarrow. I happened to be outside one day and she told me about the volunteers. I soon joined the ranks of Pam, Jo, Sue and Tania. Pam was very active in the group up until 3 months before she died, although she did have to give up her beloved wheelbarrow. However, in spite of her 87 years, she was still good at digging which she enjoyed more than anything.

Pam has sadly died and Jo has moved away so now it’s just the three of us. We meet once a week and look to see what needs doing. It’s very relaxed and informal, with no-one ‘in charge’. We work as a team, each having our particular strengths and really enjoy our sessions, which now include a coffee and home-made cake break.

We are reminded of Pam all the time by the many plants she brought and planted herself, especially the wallflowers along the driveway which were the last thing she planted before becoming quite ill and unable to come any more. They were grown from seed by her son, Chris, and she would be delighted to see how well they are doing now. Before she died, Pam said how pleased she was to know that we will carry on the good work she and Fred started years ago.
Gina Dodds
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In memory of Pam Bean, a valued member of our Quiz team, the laughter at her Hall sales; pots of jam and gardening tips. We shall miss you!
Eileen Bourne & David Wickens
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Pam’s involvement with the West Hill Community Association Hall started way back in the early 70s. She told us about the first meetings, held in her living room. Terry and I met her in the 1990s when we got involved with the WHCA and came to be friends with Pam and Fred. Pam certainly gave her all, and some, to the many projects in which she was involved. Everybody remarked on her enormous energy. On any day I talked to Pam she was whipping up a ‘a few’ pies, jars of marmalade, cakes, “only a few, about 60 or so. Maybe a hundred.” At the same time, she would be working on a sign or poster for the Sale or an event for the Organic Gardening group, before rushing off to the West Hill Hall garden or the allotment. When she wasn’t driving anymore she wheeled a barrow all the way up to Race Hill allotments – incredible. “A few people looked at me” was her comment.

Pam was such a dear friend. We never heard an unkind word from her. Her severest criticism would be “misguided or unfortunate.” A truly gentle soul. I don’t think anybody ever left Pam and Fred’s house empty-handed, or hungry and usually left with handfuls of food or plants and, sometimes, a job to do and involvement in a group or project. Pam was a great getter-together of people and helped many lonely souls find friends. West Hill Community Hall will forever be her territory and she will be remembered by all who came in contact with her as an exceptional woman.
Claire Bald & Terry Herbert
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I only got to know Pam over the last few years from the monthly quiz night at the West Hill Hall. She was always upbeat, with a ‘can-do’ attitude. Pam was well loved for all her energy and enthusiasm for fundraising, her sales, her work in the Hall garden. Pam’s lovely jam was the most sought-after prize at the Quiz raffle! I visited her house this year for a committee meeting and she was so warm and hospitable. She regaled use with her travels in Thailand. I wish I had had the chance to know her better. She was an inspiration.
Sarah Taylor
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Become a Member of the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation

and see ‘A Dark Day in Paradise’ for FREE this summer

As you know, Brighton is a fabulous place to live, a vibrant cultural city with its very own historic royal palace. It also boasts a host of museums bursting with a wealth of art, culture and history all on your doorstep. You can enjoy it all for FREE by becoming a Member of the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation. Not only will you be making a fantastic contribution towards the upkeep of the Royal Pavilion and the city’s museums but you’ll receive some great benefits too.
Membership can cost as little as £23 a year, that’s less than £2 a month.
Benefits include:

  • Free entry to the Royal Pavilion and Preston Manor
  • Free entry to paying museum exhibitions
  • Invitations to private views
  • 10% discount in the Royal Pavilion & Museums shops
  • Exclusive Members only events
  • Members’ Newsletter

The Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation is a Brighton-based charity that supports the work of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Hove Museum & Art Gallery, The Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor. The support of local people is critical in helping to fund vital conservation work at the Royal Pavilion, showcase exciting exhibitions throughout our museums, purchase new works of art to enhance our collections and to build an exciting and secure future for our Royal Pavilion & Museums.

It’s our city and our Pavilion. Join us now and be part of our future.

For more information or to join call Abigail now on 01273 292789, email or visit

Become a Member before August 31 2010 and we’ll give you a copy of our book, The Royal Pavilion Brighton, The Palace of King George IV absolutely FREE! It’s a must-have for all local households!


The Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion