Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st October 2017

Date of publication

1st December 2017

PAMELA CAIN 1916 - 2014


Pamela Cain, Miss Cain, or Pam, as she was always known to us, was a well kent figure in Abernethy, as she was involved with so many local activities and served on many committees: treasurer and chairman of the Horticultural Society, Community Council treasurer, WRI, country dancing. She would often be seen driving round the Abernethy area, delivering meals on wheels or helping with hospital transport. Later on in her life she would be seen pushing her walking frame along the footpath en route to or from paying a friendly visit to a house bound neighbour. She knew nearly everybody in Abernethy and was a good friend to many, with her practical good sense and unfailing sense of humour. Hers was a life of service, service with enjoyment.

Pam was born on July 19th 1916 in the Isle of Man, the daughter of  Margery Frizell and James Cain, vicar of Lezayre. She was educated by her father then went to a Dame school in Ramsey, followed by boarding schools in Tunbridge Wells and North Wales. After a brief spell as an au pair in France, Pam chose to do domestic science as she ‘thought it would be useful.’

In the early years of the war she set up a Red Cross post on the Isle of Man before undertaking a Red Cross course in London and a posting abroad. She set sail from Liverpool and arrived in Algiers on 25th December, 1943 when  North Africa was still occupied, but the campaign was over, and so she was transferred to Italy. On the way the small hospital ship was hit by a very fierce storm, in which one of the 4 landing craft was washed away and the other 3 were holed. She was the only one in the Red Cross group

After a few days a posting took Pam to a partially tented, 2000 bed hospital in Afragoli, near Naples. During this time Vesuvius erupted, smothering hospitals to the south in ash but not Pam’s. Later she moved on successively to Rome, a convalescent home on the Adriatic, an ex TB hospital in Forli, Udine near the Austrian border, and Vienna. At Forli Pam learned to drive, having been allocated a 15cwt truck with no driver. The end of the war brought no change to the routine of dealing with patients or to life in general.

Now in Vienna, in the summer of 1946, Pam got leave and returned to the UK and on 28th November,1946  received the British Red Cross Society’s Distinguished War Service Certificate at Buckingham Palace, an award of which she was very proud. Pam finally came home from Austria in early 1947 to set about finding employment.

She chose to train for occupational therapy at a time when this was in the process of a change from keeping patients amused to more positive treatment. On the course she met Anne Coventry, who became a life long friend. Neither of them had been to Scotland, and so, their course completed, they both applied for jobs at Bridge of Earn hospital  in order to visit Scotland with fares paid. Bridge of Earn Hospital were so short staffed that they were both accepted, unseen! They found a flat at Ayton House to live in. Pam remained at Bridge of Earn Hospital until her retirement in 1976, when she moved into her cottage, The Knowes, in Kirk Wynd, which she had bought in the early ‘60s. It had to be partially gutted and the roof of half of it taken off. One half had been a weaver’s cottage, the other half a weaving room, attached at a later date. It was renovated and let until her retirement.

About a year before Pam retired Jeff took up a post in the pharmacy at Bridge of Earn Hospital, and he and I settled in Abernethy and got to know Pam both professionally and socially. She became a good friend of the family and was our children’s favourite baby sitter, whose good humour they enjoyed and whose kind authority they accepted without question. Pam also shared our love of the outdoors and adventure.Anne Coventry was mad about sailing, and so Pam sailed with her in Perth Sailing Club. She was intro- duced to mountaineering by Nan Rae, who is a member of Perth JMCS and the Ladies Scotttish Climbing Club (LSCC). The LSCC has been a very important aspect of Pam’s life. After serving as hut custodian of Black Rock, the club hut in Glencoe, she became club president in the 1970s. She enjoyed travelling and camping and continued to take part in Alpine meets until well into her 80s. The highlight of her climbing career was undoubtedly the expedition to East Greenland in 1970. The 12 members who went endured hardships such as being tent bound in a snow storm for 3 days, or overpowered by the heat of the 24 hour sunshine, but the expedition was crowned with success by the ascent of several peaks, one of which was a first ascent. A few years later Pam returned to work for a few months to finance a trip to the Annapurna area of Nepal.

In retirement Pam and Anne both became involved with Perth Handicapped Club, set up as a social outlet for disabled people who were otherwise house bound. They did escort duty, both local and longer distance and were instrumental in setting up Mill Street library for the disabled, which, most poignantly, was closed down on the day Pam died, 4th of April. In 1981 Pam became chairperson of the Handicapped Club; this involved organising fortnightly meetings for home visits to people who could not attend the meet- ings and an annual rally in the Lesser City Hall, open to all disabled people in the county. On the strength of her services to the community of Perth Pam was awarded an MBE and made her second visit to Buckingham Palace, this time in the company of her nieces, Muriel and Helen, and her nephew, Michael.

She was a member of Perth Society of Natural Sciences and the Perth section of the Royal Scottish Geographic Society.


Julia Banks