'Heart of the community' passes away after 15 years of keeping Northampton park clean and tidy

The committed community player was called 'a dream' by her colleagues who saw her 'every other day'

By Max Pearson
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 1:11 pm
Pam seen with her best friend Poppy, who is now in the care of a friend.
Pam seen with her best friend Poppy, who is now in the care of a friend.

The 'heart of the community' in an area of Northampton, Pam Johnson, has sadly passed away after 15 years of keeping her beloved park clean and tidy.

The 79-year-old swiftly became a fixture in her community after giving time to picking up litter in Dallington Park, along with her iconic poodle named Poppy.

She was well-known for her kind demeanor and quick wit, as the dedicated tidier lifted the spirits of those around her, every day, beginning with early morning rounds that often started as early as 5:30am.

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Pam lives on in a street not far from the park that was named after her.

Pam's two daughters, Teresa Johnson and Vanessa Cruickshank, took comfort in the many fond accounts the Dallington community had of their mother, without a single bad word to be said.

The sisters said: "She was a unique character to be sure. We don't think there will be another person quite like her again.

"She wasn't a shrinking violet. If she saw people making a mess of her park, she would tell them exactly what she thought.

"Even the last time we saw her, her only thought was of the park and that it would become messy without her.

"With her straightforward talking, her forthrightness and her passion for what she did, I'm sure she brought lots of laughter to a lot of people.

"She's going to be missed."

Pam was born locally to Northampton, before moving away. She returned in the 1980s and due to ill health, retired in 2006, leading to her fateful decision to begin cleaning up the town to pass the time.

For her many efforts, the mother-of-two won two awards, being the Friendly Neighbour of the Year in 2009 and the Pride in Northamptonshire Award in July 2011, which was presented to her by the Mayor.

Robin Odell, chair of Pam's group, Friends of Dallington Park, gave tribute to his departed friend, who he said would be 'dearly missed'.

The chair said: "She was into everything, bless her, and has been the heart of the community for as long as it's been going; about 15 years.

"This was part of her life. She loved getting out in the morning and making a difference. She didn't want to be stuck inside, so as soon as the sun was up she'd be out picking up that litter.

"If there were every any issues she would always give me a ring and let me know. I saw her every other day at least. She has been an absolute dream. She was part of the family to us.

"Without a doubt we will be dedicating a bench in the park to her and, perhaps, plant a tree in her memory too.

"Just remember whenever you throw any rubbish down, that Pam isn't there to pick it up anymore."

The Friends of Dallington Village also remembered Pam fondly, describing how they would see her take trips seven days a week 'mostly twice a day' and always wrapped up warm with her best friend Poppy the Poodle.

They said: "Pam had such a witty sense of humour and would always use the term 'the little darlings' when speaking of those that dropped litter.

"We have always taken pride in our village and park as being clean and tidy but most of this is because of her work and time In service.

"Pam would only take gifts of black plastic bags and she would give such appreciation anyone would think you had given her a gold watch.

"She will always be remembered, our lovely Pam. We thank her for her hard work. She may have left us but heaven will be a tidier place with her there."

Pam leaves behind her two daughters, as well as her grandchildren Tom, Michaela, Frazer and Millie. She also leaves a great grandchild named Isabella.

Her funeral will be taking place at Counties Crematorium, Northampton on February 11 at 3:30pm.