15 February 2011

Marie Palmer LLAM FRSA (1944 - 2011)

Marie passed away peacefully the night of February 3rd 2011, with her husband, John, by her side. She battled hard for over three and a half years with metastatic breast cancer, having tumours in the lungs, and then a tumour in the brain.  It seems fitting then, that the first post I write here on heroes and inspirations is about her (my mum).

Growing up in the 70's and 80's mum was always there for whatever we needed. She would always allow us our own freedom (or so it seemed). It's only in later life that you realise that that freedom came as an extra bit of slack on the parental reins. But it gave us chance to grow, explore and develop into young adults.

There was never any "you must be a..." speeches, but there was also never any "you must not be...". In fact the closest any of us came to that, was the fact that mum never wanted any of us to go into theatre or acting. Ironically, and I never told her, animators are often referred to as shy actors. But she probably knew.

Mum always worked and she worked hard. Even in her teens she ran stables for her father. The majority of her adult life she worked either as a wife and mother or a teacher. Her subject, speech and drama, was something she had fallen in love with as a girl (as I did with animation as a boy), and went on to make a long and successful career from it, working in two private girls schools, a drama school, and for many years successfully running her own business.

I was fortunate enough to, not only be taught by her, but to watch her teach. In my mid teens, due to High School "teacher training days", mum would often take me with her to the Drama School in Birmingham where I'd find myself surrounded by and semi immersed into the training of a drama student. This allowed me the opportunity to observe and understand the basics of theatrical performance, and eventually incorporate it into my animation work.

Mum was a big influence in and on my life, and helped me become who I am today. Even in later life when she'd decided to retire from teaching due to her health (a decision that took much courage), mum was always there to listen to plans and ideas with great encouragement.

Everyone that met or knew mum could see what a wonderful and strong woman she was. That strength was even there in her last days. Less than twelve hours before she passed away, she became a Great Grandma for the first time, one final tick on her checklist of achievements.

She touched the lives of hundreds of people during her life, from family and friends to all of her students. She was loved and respected and will be greatly missed.

Rest in Peace mum, you've earned it.

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