My mother, Pamela Blake, who has died aged 90, was an unsung public servant, a local Labour politician and a magistrate who showed great compassion to others.
She was born in Poplar, east London, into a poor family during the general strike of 1926, the youngest of seven (surviving) children of Alfred Petts, a sailor, and his wife Ethel (nee Davis). Her official schooling finished when the second world war was declared, but she spent her whole life learning. She adored classical music, archaeology and reading. In 1941 she moved, with her mother and older sister, to Gravesend, Kent, where she remained for the rest of her life.
During the war she worked in a munitions factory, then trained to become a “sparks” (electrician’s mate). In 1946 she, along with her two brothers, broke with family tradition and joined the Labour party. In the early 1950s she met Kenneth Blake, an electrician. They married in 1953, and she gave up work to become a wife and mother, as was the convention of the time.
During the late 1950s Kenneth became a Labour councillor and a trade union convenor at Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (now Lafarge), where he worked. Pamela decided to stand for election too and served as a local councillor for three years in the early 1960s. This sparked her lifelong interest in public service in the local community; she became a school governor, and a member of the Old People’s Welfare Committee (now Age Concern). She also volunteered for Meals on Wheels and at the local Red Cross office.
In 1973 she became a well-respected magistrate, serving until 1996. She was heavily involved with her local Labour party until well into her 80s.
Kenneth died in 1997. Pamela is survived by their daughters, Shelagh, Amanda and me, by two grandsons and two great-granddaughters.