OBITUARY | Pamela Powell: Lifetime of service included famous chapter in South Down

Pam Powell, who has died at the age of 91, gave a lifetime of service at many levels; to her country during the Second World War, to her husband the late Enoch Powell MP, and to her family.

Pam and Enoch Powell
Pam and Enoch Powell

The daughter of an officer in the Indian Army, she was born Margaret Pamela Wilson in Liverpool in January 1926 and spent the first few years of her life in India, returning in 1930.

In 1943 she persuaded her mother to allow her to leave school and train as a secretary, which she saw as her path to serving in the war effort, rather than attend university.

She became one of the War Office’s most qualified and competent secretaries and served in the typing pool of the War Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence from May 1944 until 1946, when she was transferred to the South East Asia field of operations.

Winston Churchill was one of her great heroes and she had the privilege of taking dictation from him on at least one occasion.

Following the war, she was posted to New York to work at the UK delegation of the Military Staff Committee of the UN, returning to England in 1947 and taking up a post with the Conservative Parliamentary Secretariat, which is where she met her husband to be, then Brigadier Powell.

She was 26 and he 39 when she married Enoch Powell in 1952.

She remained a constant throughout his political career, which included the period after his famous ‘Rivers of blood’ emigration speech in 1968, when Powell was considered dangerous company within the Conservative Party.

This resulted in the couple being sidelined by former friends within the party, something which caused her concerns, but she was more anxious when Powell attended public meetings at universities where there was often protest.

While in private she expressed opinions which differed from his, in public she was and always remained fiercely loyal.

In 1974 Powell parted company with the Conservative Party over the issue of the Common Market, although he retained his Wolverhampton South seat.

But in October 1974 he was elected as MP for South Down, opening a new chapter for his wife and family as well.

Pam had to adapt to a very dangerous environment at that time, but took threats of terrorist attack very much in her stride. Enoch Powell represented South Down constituency from 1974 until 1987.

The couple had two daughters, Susan, born in 1954, and Jennifer, born in 1956, and whatever was happening in the world outside, Pam Powell ensured that a happy family life continued at home.

Powell wrote his wife a poem and gave her a bunch of roses, with one for each year of their marriage, on their anniversary each year.

Pam Powell had been ill for some time and was looked after by her daughters Susan and Jennifer. She passed away at her home in Pimlico in central London.