Obituary: Pamela Nicholls - 'A driving force in community theatre'

Pam Nicholls brought her family up in Huntingdon. 

Pam Nicholls brought her family up in Huntingdon. - Credit: NICHOLLS FAMILY

Pamela Nicholls was a driving force within community theatre who graced the stages of local theatres on many occasions.

She helped to raise thousands of pounds for Huntingdon County Primary Schools with pantomimes and sketches in the 1970s and 80s and appeared with Panto ’89 at the Commemoration Hall, Brampton Park Theatre Club, Centre Players, SIMADS, Ocras Theatre Group and Shakespeare at the George.

Pam, as she was known to her friends, and her young family were one of the first to settle on the Oxmoor at the beginning of the 1960s. She was a fighter and was part of that wartime generation with an indomitable spirit - as a five year old in 1943 she had to run down a street in Catford with her aunt and her baby cousin in a pram to escape the machine gun fire of a Luftwaffe plane, 38 children in the nearby school playground at Sandhurst Road were not so lucky and were all shot down and killed.

She had always loved to write and perform as a child, but it was not until her own children were at junior school and the PTA said they were looking for script writers to help with a pantomime production of Aladdin that she took to the stage again.

Pam, bottom left, loved performing in local theatre productions.

Pam, bottom left, loved performing in local theatre productions. - Credit: NICHOLLS FAMILY

Pam went on to write, and quite often direct and star in all the pantos with her friend Gladys Meredith, another parent at the school. They continued to stage the pantomimes and sketch shows long after their own children left the school. The pantos were always eagerly awaited by not only the pupils but the local community too.

Pam, left, loved performing on stage and was a driving force in local theatre.

Pam, left, loved performing on stage and was a driving force in local theatre. - Credit: NICHOLLS FAMILY

Pam passed on her talents to subsequent generations in her own family. Her son Martin went on to study drama at Bretton Hall, and her daughter Collette, gained a degree in English and Drama, specialising in Directing, at Homerton College Cambridge.

Both had appeared in the productions at Huntingdon Primary School as youngsters. Her granddaughter Tiffany went on to study Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

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In her youth Pam had trained as a telephonist with the GPO, before it became British Telecom. When she moved to Huntingdon she eventually became a telephonist with BT at the Huntingdon Telephone Exchange where she worked for many years before becoming a receptionist at the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries, a job she shared with her great friend Jean Berridge, who had also been a telephonist with BT.

She went on to become a dedicated volunteer on the arts and performance programme PATCH, at the Commemoration Hall, during the Noughties.

Her roles as wife to Jimmy, mum to Tony, Collette and Martin, and grandmother to Patrick, Rory, Tiffany, Joss and Torin, sister, aunty and friend to many were her greatest, but she will be remembered by many for the joys she brought in memorable productions such as Arsenic and Old Lace at Brampton Park Theatre, The Importance of Being Earnest with Ocras Theatre Group, the Wicked Witch and Queenie with Centre Players, as Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure with Shakespeare at the George, and many roles including one of the Ugly Sisters in the Huntingdon Primary School PTA Pantomimes.

Pam’s Celebration of Life takes place at Huntingdon Crematorium at 1pm on 29 November, and afterwards at the Commemoration Hall, Huntingdon.