CHILDREN who have passed through a Stratton nursery will know her simply as Teacher Pam.

But yesterday Pam Hillier’s family paid tribute to her as a mother and wife who dedicated her life to children despite years of personal hardship.

The 65-year-old, of Don Close, Haydon Wick, worked for nearly 40 years at the St Philip’s Playgroup on Beechcroft Road, Upper Stratton, which she jointly owned.

But last Thursday Pam lost her battle with a rare condition she was diagnosed with nine years ago. Her husband of 57 years, John, was at her side as she passed away at the Great Western Hospital.

She also leaves behind sons Kevin, 42, and Paul, 36, from Haydon Wick, Scott, 39, from Oakhurst, and six grandchildren.

“She was very committed to children, she always has been,” said Scott.

“She was born to take care and look after children, that was her passion, she was such a busy lady.

“She would put everybody first before herself and she will be greatly missed.”

Born and brought up in Penhill, Pam, a keen dancer, lived in Haydon Wick for the last 40 years and was the only qualified nursery teacher at the playgroup. Inevitably because of her work she was well-known in the town.

“We could be walking through Asda and you’d get a tug on her shirt and someone saying ‘Teacher Pam’ – when you imagine 40 years of children coming through with 30 children a term,” said Scott.

“One of the doctors at the hospital said ‘I know you, you’re Teacher Pam’.”

Nine years ago Pam was diagnosed with the condition sarcoidosis, an illness so rare that the doctor from the Great Western Hospital would speak about Pam’s case at medical conferences.

Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown cause that leads to inflammation and can affect various organs in the body often the lungs.

Without a cure, Pam was eventually left with the use of one lung which was also being attacked by the disease.

Pam’s funeral is next Friday at St Philip’s Church, Beechcroft Road, at 10.45am followed by cremation at Kingsdown Crematorium.

There will be family flowers only but donations would be appreciated for SILA, a sarcoidosis charity through Hillier Funeral Service, 170 Victoria Road, Swindon, SN1 3DF and for enquiries call 01793 522797.