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