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Pam Brown (right), President of the H&StL Seniors Forum, receiving in 2020 the deeds of the Isabel Blackman Centre on behalf of a consortium of community groups

Ex-Mayor Pam Brown OBE has died

Pam Brown was a Hastings presence like no other. For decades she put her energies and intelligence into improving people’s lives, and she succeeded. She was on Hastings Borough Council for nearly 40 years, and for a time its Leader. She became Mayor. She was a County Councillor. When she ‘retired,’ she was as busy as ever, and took a keen interest in what was going on in areas such as veterans’ affairs, social care, and planning. She contributed a huge amount to Hastings. Bernard McGinley remembers a diverse and persistent campaigner.

For all the identification of Pam Brown with Hastings, her beginnings were in the East Riding of Yorkshire, near Filey. She attended Hunmanby Hall nearby, a Methodist boarding school which opened in 1928. The regime was brisk. In the summer term, a charabanc would take the girls for sea bathing.

Pam’s school life was coloured by the breakout of World War Two in 1939. She wrote about it later:

So I scrapped all plans to go to University, stayed at school till the next summer, sat school certificate, and got a job in the City of London where we were then living as my stepfather was working at the War Office. Lots of anti-aircraft fire most evenings.

Duly joined WRNS and was sent to train as a visual signaller (Bunting Tosser in naval jargon) . . .

She served in the Royal Navy (as a Wren) in the later years of the War. Somehow she eventually got to Hastings and found it congenial, perhaps in part for its coastal qualities. Eventually she became Speaker of the Confederation of The Cinque Ports.

A full public life

As an active Liberal (there were no Lib Dems in those days) she had conspicuous electoral success. She was first elected to Hastings Borough Council in 1968, and represented Castle Ward from 1979. She stood down in 2006.

To 38 years as a Borough Councillor can be added 12 years as a County Councillor. She also became Chair of East Sussex Social Services.

A particular interest was the damage done by dementia. She supported the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) and became its President. In a tribute the DAA said that her leadership

was marked by a genuine concern for the well-being of the community and a drive to make a meaningful impact.

Pam Brown was involved with the Hastings & St Leonards Veterans Association, and as HSVA President turned out for commemorations such as at Winkle Island for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.  Like others that day she had been in service in 1944.

She was also President of the Hastings & St Leonards Seniors’ Forum, and closely involved in saving the Old Town’s Isabel Blackman Centre.

After serving as Mayor of Hastings in 2004-5, she was also made an Hon. Freeman of Hastings in 2006.

In 1992 Pam was awarded an OBE ‘for political and public service’. That’s not vagueness: it’s because her interests were so extensive.

Pam Brown recorded in South Terrace

Her name can be seen on the car park plaque where Cornwallis Street meets South Terrace. In the event of redevelopment, the plaque should be preserved in Hastings Museum. Pam Brown was and is a part of Hastings history.

Winding down

In her retirement Pam worked just as hard. One of her memorable statements was:

Don’t give up on the work that’s being done today, because you can make a difference.

She was part of Hastings Watchdog, which kept an eye – or tried to – on local planning abuses, whether by pushy developers, overindulgent planners or lazy members. She watched balefully the goings-on around town, and supported (among others) the campaign to save the land known as Robsack Meadow from development. Eventually the campaign was successful.

Pam Brown in 2008 (grateful acknowledgements to Tony Coombes and Sussex World)

Another strongly felt cause was St Mary in the Castle. During the pandemic she wrote in a local publication:

Time is running out: what we need – as soon as Covid-19 allows – is a well publicised public meeting to produce a future for this unique facility

In the same cause she messaged with typical spirit and industry:

if recovered from accident sufficiently, need to be at SMIC [St Mary in the Castle] for Jazz breakfast.

Pam gave activism, community service and community spirit a good name. Her honesty and integrity won people over. Her dedication and determination were impressive. She will be truly missed.

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Posted 22:24 Wednesday, Mar 6, 2024 In: Obituary

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