Family remembers perfect couple

THEIRS was the ultimate love story.Since teenagers, Eddie and Pam Clayden were inseparable, and so it proved in death, as after 55 years of blissful marriage, they passed away within two days of each other.

THEIRS was the ultimate love story.

Since teenagers, Eddie and Pam Clayden were inseparable, and so it proved in death, as after 55 years of blissful marriage, they passed away within two days of each other.

Their three children, Adrian, Leigh and Trudie, say the couple, who were well known around Ipswich, were always together and remained so until the end.

Ipswich-born Eddie first met Pam - then Pam Purnell - at the Beehive pub, in St Helen's Street. Eddie was 18 at the time and his friend took a shine to Pam's friend, however she would not walk home with the boy by herself, and so the four of them set off together.

Eddie claimed it was love at first sight with Pam and he became besotted with her.

After five years of courting, Eddie got fed up of waiting so skipped the proposal part and went ahead to book the vicar for the wedding. They married in All Saints Church, in Chevalier Street, on March 21, 1953. Sadly they never made it to their 55th wedding anniversary, which would have been a day after their joint funeral next week. Eddie was 78 and Pam was 77.

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Their eldest, Adrian, 52, of Combs Lane, Stowmarket, said: “If you wrote the script for a wonderful love story for the last 55 years, it would end like this. Because we have each other, we are getting through it but the initial shock has been hard to bear.

“We have found an inner strength and we have felt our mother and father have been with us. We believe they did it for us and at somehow made it easier that they went at the same time.”

Eddie, an avid Ipswich Town football club supporter, was well known for fronting Stoke Fisheries in town where he was first manager and then joint proprietor. He later left the business to work at the wholesalers, Nurdin and Peacock, where he quickly progressed up the ranks.

Fifteen years ago a big win at the bingo of £15,000 changed their lives as they were able to buy their dream bungalow in Granchester Place, Kesgrave, where they lived until their deaths.

The family, including the couple's five grandchildren, Gemma, 23, Kelly, 21, Samantha 20, Ashley, 19, and Alicia, eight,

are struggling to come to terms with losing both of them are in such a short space of time.

Both Eddie and Pam had experienced various health problems over the years, but in the last year, it was Eddie who appeared to be the weaker one.

On March 5, Leigh went over to his parents' home in the morning to check on his father. His mother was in bed as she was recovering from the flu.

“My big worry was my father. My mother told me the flu had gone and she just felt a bit weak,” Leigh, 48, said.

He then left the house but when he rang his father back later, he became increasingly worried and sent for the doctor. Leigh arrived just after the doctor and while his father was being tended to, he checked on his mother, only to find that she had died.

Eddie was admitted into hospital as the rest of the family tried to cope with the enormity of what had happened.

Leigh, of North Lawn, Rushmere St Andrew, said: “Dad knew what had happened and told us not to worry about our mother because she was now no longer in pain. We were a balling mess but I only saw him shed one tear. He was being strong for us.”

On March 7, Eddie died of a heart attack in hospital during the night.

Leigh added: “He looked at me on Thursday night and said 'I've had a lovely life'- and he really has. Mum would have echoed that.

“We miss them like crazy. They were the best parents ever and we have got lots of happy memories of them. They were very much in love.”

Adrian added: “We are going to have a plaque for them by a rose bush in the Millennium Garden, which says 'Eddie and Pamela together forever' and that just about sums it up.”

Do you want to pay tribute to Eddie and Pam? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Eddie, who had six sisters and one brother, was born in Ipswich on March 26, 1929. His family home was in Queen's Way, Chantry. He went to Priory Heath school and was also a member of the Red Triangle club.

He loved singing and would often stand up at parties and belt out his favourite tunes, many of which were from musicals. His signature tune was Edelweiss, which will also be played at the funeral.

Abide With Me will also be played at the funeral, which is reminiscent of Town's cup final of 1978, that Eddie and Leigh watched together.

Born in June 29 1930, Pamela had one sister and four brothers. When she was a baby, the family moved to India, as her father was a sergeant major in the Royal Navy. They remained there until the late 30s, and on their return, moved to Kingston Road in the Westbourne area if Ipswich. She attended Westbourne High School and later went on to work in Woolworths and then at a greengrocers in Bramford Lane.

When the children were born, she gave up work and became a traditional housewife, as well as helping out at the fish and chip shop. She also later worked part time at Nurdin and Peacock.

The family have said everyone is welcome to attend the joint funeral at All Saints Church in Kesgrave on Thursday, March 20, at 10am.

This will be followed by a private burial for family only, and then people can join them again for a do in the Greshams Sports and Social Centre.

They have requested no flowers but donations can be sent to St Elizabeth Hospice c/o East of England Co-operative Funeral Service, 47 St Helen's Street, Ipswich, IP4 2JL.