The Zimapanners







Pamela Merrall 




Pam Prentice was born Pamela Merrall on 11 Sep 1946 in Lambeth, London.  Pamela was one of four children born to deaf and dumb parents. She described herself as a child as “a really shy child, skinny and poor”. 


Swopped London for Truro (1972)

Pam met and lived with Lambeth-born Peter Prentice in 1967. In 1972, after for 16 years of living in London, they decided to escape the London rate race moved to Truro. Pam, who was 26 at the time, worked for the National Westminster Bank (1963-1977). She managed to get a transfer to a branch bank in Truro. “Its a lovely city and I love going back to it”.

Marriage (1974)
Pete and Pam got married in Truro in 1974, and in 1977 had their first child Christopher. She went on to have two more children: a daughter Jayne in 1979, who is now pregnant, and another son called Billy in 1981.  


Stopped work to bring up family (1977-1987)

Pam gave up work in 1977 when Chris was born, but went back to work again in 1987, this time for the Midland Bank (HSBC) until 1997. “In those days, work was fun, but like many companies, that all changed once the credo became ‘sell, sell, sell’.” 


Zimapan (1987-89)

Pam and Pete sold their house in Truro and moved into Zimapan in 1987, five years after husband Pete and Pete Hardman had completed a three-year project of renovating the property for its Chinese owner, Brian See. They lived in Zimapan rent-free. During this period, Pete began building a new family home in Tresillian. 


'Rivendell' (1989-1999)

While at Zimapan, Pam and Pete built their new house which they called Rivendell, in a village of Tresillian, about three miles outside Truro. Her children’s friends called it ‘Southfork’ after the American soap series. It was beautiful, very spacious and light home. It was part of a desirable development of 26 houses all built all to individual designs in 1988. Theirs was the largest (2,600 sq ft) and was an upside-down design, with all five bedrooms and three bathrooms on the ground floor and all the living areas on the first floor. They also had a utility and a games room, a huge lounge kitchen and dining room.  There was a balcony off the large lounge that was south-facing, offering a beautiful view of the creek. 


Early retirement (1997)

Pam quit her job with HSBC (Midland) and took early retirement  in 1997 at the age of 50. Shortly afterwards, she had a prolapsed disc and was laid up for about eight months. She went private, had the operation, and managed to get her life back on track.  


Time to sell up and travel (1999) 

In 1999, her eldest son, Chris (22), had finished university and was living in Bournemouth, while her 19-year-old daughter had just gone off travelling on her own to Australia. There were only three of them left “rattling around” in their massive house in Tresillian. They still had a mortgage, but after the operation on her back, Pam and Pete decided that the house had served its purpose and that it was time to move on. “It was a lovely feeling being able to sell up and repay the mortgage”. With the remainder of the proceeds of the sale, they bought three smaller houses and used the rental income from two of them to finance their travelling. Their son moved in to the third house.  


Backpacking around world (1999) 

In September 1999, Pete and Pam set off on a two-year backpacking adventure around the world. They stayed in really cheap backpackers’ accommodation and guest houses all over the world, visiting Egypt, six countries in Africa, and then Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, including Singapore, Bali and Java. They then moved on to Australia where they bought a small camper and used it to travel all around the country. They then sold the camper, flew to New Zealand and bought another camper and continued on their journey. After travelling for nearly two years, they headed back through SE Asia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Up until then, they had really enjoyed themselves. They met many people, saw so many wonderful sights, and returned to England with many good memories. 


Accident in India 

In June 2001, after twenty-one months of travelling, Pete and Pam briefly returned to England, but after discovering that they could not re-occupy any of their properties, they set off again, this time for India. While returning from Hampi to Goa with Pam, the car in which they were travelling was struck by a bus and Pete and the car driver were tragically killed. The car had no seat belts. Pam survived the collision, but was seriously injured and was in hospital for nine weeks while surgeons and nurses pieced her back together with bolts and metal plates. Despite the accident, Pam managed to rebuild her life, sees more of her children and now leads life to the full again. After the accident, Pam moved to Surrey.  


Moved to Surrey (2001)

After the accident, Pam moved to Surrey because she needed 24-hour care, and because her daughter was studying at the university nearby. She lives in a small end-terraced house and is very content there. Although she described herself as a “rather shy, unconfident child”, she has completely changed, and can “chat for England, thanks, she says, to Pete who was very confident”. 


Cornish friends 

Pam leads a busy social life and has made many new friends. “I do far more than I ever did when I lived in Cornwall”. She still visits old friends there, but would never live there again. “There is not enough to do there, other than go to the beach in the summer”, she says. Moreover, “the weather in Surrey is always better”. 


Source: Compiled by author from Pamela Prentice's e-mails.