Pam is one of the recipients of this year’s Cross of St Piran awards.

Pam Parnell has lived in Launceston all her life.

She has served her community and her church with extraordinary devotion through the last eight decades.

She started studying at St Thomas’s Sunday School as a small child, and she and her husband married in St Thomas’s Church. Their children were baptized there, and her husband served for years as groundsman in the churchyard.

As a teenager, Pam helped supporting the infants at the Sunday School.

“It just went on from there till I ended up being one of the people running it,” she explains. “I did that for more than 10 years. I was still teaching there when my own children joined.”

She then served as secretary to the Parochial Church Council, and was later asked to become churchwarden.

“I was the first lady churchwarden in Launceston,” she says. “At the time, it didn’t necessarily go down so well with some of the men in the other churches.”

For many years, she read the lessons in church and has helped to keep regular services going in the periods between incumbent parish priests.

She has also been closely involved with the League of Friends at Launceston Hospital – for more than half a century. She was chair of the League of Friends for many years. Her eldest daughter has now taken over that role.

She has also done a lot of work to support the local branches of the Mothers’ Union and the Women’s Institute, with whom she trained to be a WI advisor.

“I’ve always really loved this work,” she says. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it – well, you would, wouldn’t you? – because you’re giving, aren’t you?”

She has also throughout her life found great comfort, inspiration and joy in her faith. “I’ve always had my faith,” she says. “I can’t explain exactly why.

“I’ve had a few problems in my life. I don’t know where I’d have been without my faith.

“It’s just something you’ve got in you. It’s something that you just know, I think.”

With typical modesty, she says she was truly surprised to hear that she had been selected for a Cross of St Piran award. “I was really honoured and humbled as I never expected anything like this.

“I’ve just done it all willingly and lovingly, to be honest.”