Plaque unveiled in tribute to Stevenage community stalwart Pat Palmer

St Hilda's Church father Michael Doherty, Councillor Michelle Gardner, Pat's granddaughter Emma Poul

St Hilda's Church father Michael Doherty, Councillor Michelle Gardner, Pat's granddaughter Emma Poulter and great grandson Connor, three, and vice chair of Stevenage Credit Union Peggy Lyons at the unveiling of the plaque dedicated to Stevenage Credit Union co-founder Pat Palmer. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A plaque paying tribute to a woman who spent more than 40 years volunteering in her community, and who was one of the founding members of a credit union, has been unveiled.

Pat Palmer was a Stevenage pioneer – one of the first residents to move into the new town in the 1950s. Stevenage was chosen as the site of the first new town in 1946 – one of eight in the Greater London area, created to ease the housing pressure as bombsites and slums were cleared following the Second World War.

Pat’s husband died when their two children were young and she went on to raise them single-handedly.

Later, she invested a lot of time volunteering within the Stevenage community. She was a fundraising committee member and assistant for more than 20 years at The Canyon Play Centre, a senior library assistant at Lister Hospital for 10 years, and in 1995 helped set up Stevenage Credit Union to assist people struggling financially and cut the threat of loan sharks.

She also helped set up children’s nurseries and continued to volunteer as a director at the credit union’s centre at The Hyde.

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Pat died in 2016, aged 93, and on Tuesday a plaque was unveiled at the Stevenage Credit Union in tribute to her.

Anne Slade, the credit union’s project development manager, said: “Pat was instrumental in setting up the credit union and she carried on volunteering right up until she was in her 90s, becoming our longest-serving director.

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“She was a community champion and knew how hard it was bringing a family up as a widow on one income.

“She only wished there were credit unions during this time to help families out.

“She helped so many people – particularly young people and children – and she was such a kind person.

“She has left a lasting legacy in the town, and so many people knew her.

“Pat was also passionate about animals, as well as people, and rescued many creatures.”

Anne added: “Life must have been very tough for Pat, but she was stoical.

“She had to give up her schooling during the Second World War to serve her country on the homefront, before going on to raise her children by herself.

“The plaque is a mark of respect to recognise what she did for the credit union.”

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