Thank you Pam!

A tribute to Pam Freeman, by Jamie Summers

At the April AGM, after some 35 years of active involvement in our little charity, Pam felt it was time to step down as Co-ordinator and Trustee. Already she is much missed.

I have only known Pam for 26 years, starting my connection at the September 1995 AGM when we were the Association for the Pastoral Care of the Mentally Ill. There was an inspiring seminar that November when the triumvirate of Pam, Jeremy Boutwood and John Vallat spoke of their lives at the Guild of Health offices in Queen Anne Street. Indeed, Pam was also a Trustee of the Guild of Health and we later shared their offices with them. It was then that I became entwined with the aims and ethos of APCMI. At the Hammersmith & Fulham MIND’s Consumer Forum Sunday gathering, Jeremy and Pam came to speak to us on 25th February 1996 – I was the development worker for this ‘user group’ and vividly recall Pam telling us how she found God in a field of wild flowers.

I joined the committee of the by now APCMH (mental health rather than illness) soon after, and joined Pam as an evening volunteer at the Norbury drop-in run by Mary Hillier (later Wright) for the Croydon branch. In the summer of 1996, a pivotal moment of my life, Pam, Jeremy and I listened to Jean Vanier speak at Friends House on the Euston Road about his L’Arche set up. That autumn we held the 10th anniversary celebration of APCMH at Southwark Cathedral and then held our AGM at All Saints Church in Battersea where our committee meets once again. Pam, with her APCMH hat on, joined me from Consumer Forum as founder members of the UK Federation for Smaller Mental Health Agencies started by Peter Thompson of the Matthew Trust.

Throughout her 35 years of caring for the marginalised both within her own and our charity families she has never faltered. Many would testify to her gentle support in personal matters let alone mental health dilemmas.

Thank you Pam for all you have done for Being Alongside / APCMH. May you flourish in your well-earned retirement.