A former matron of a children’s home in Hemel Hempstead has been awarded for her contribution to services for children and families.
Pamela Eldridge, of Woodhall Farm, was given the prestigious British Empire Medal at a ceremony at County Hall last week.
For the past 15 years, she has volunteered as an independent member of Herts County Council’s fostering panel, helping to assess potential fosterers for children in care.
Pamela, 78, said of her award: “It’s an honour, it’s really very nice.”
The Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire – Lady Verulam – presented Pamela and several other volunteers from across the county with their medals before a celebratory reception in the ballroom.
Pamela said: “Everybody was so kind, and there was a lovely configuration of people there. It was a lovely afternoon.”
Pamela was brought up in Leicestershire and has carved a full and rewarding career out of working with young people.
She was a member of the nursing staff at a boarding school for disabled children in Nottinghamshire.
In the late sixties, she moved to Bexhill, East Sussex, where she was matron of a holiday home for disabled children, then owned by the Stars Organisation for Spastics – now known as the Stars Foundation for Cerebral Palsy.
In 1973, she moved to Hertfordshire where she ran care home 51 Woolmer Drive in Leverstock Green before taking early retirement in the late eighties.
For three months, she worked relieving staff members in homes across the county who were on maternity leave, and completed a voluntary stint for the Rennie Grove hospice in St Albans – sitting with those being cared for as well as taking them to doctor’s appointments.
For more than 15 years, she has sat on a panel at County Hall, helping to decide which couples were suitable to become foster carers.
She used to take part once every two weeks but has now cut it down to once every month.
Pamela’s roles in childcare services meant she forged close and loving relationships with the youngsters she looked after.
She said: “I often still hear from children I cared for. Just the other day I had a letter from a girl I looked after at the boarding school, telling me she was moving.”
Pamela, who never married or had a family of her own, said: “I always wanted to work with children. At times, it was hard and stressful, but I have enjoyed it over the years.”