Friday, 8 November 2013

Tribute to my Friend the late Susan May

This is one of those things that I really hoped I’d not have to write and what’s even worse is that Sue and I had talked about ‘just this’ many times.

Bless my dear friend Susan May, my life was considerably richer for knowing Susan because she was the ‘Joan of Arc’ in fighting against injustice. She was tough and determined, but she was much, much more than that. Susan was warm hearted, caring, very gentle and attentive. She made me hopeful for the future. It’s odd writing this eulogy for her as she didn’t like people to compliment her, but she really was one in a million. It’s not what you say that defines you; it’s what you do.

I had been corresponding with Susan for a few years after she contacted me and we
struck up a pen friendship. Funnily enough we almost never talked about legal stuff and I’m an insufferable bore when it comes to talking case, but we just didn’t speak about it. Then I happened to get a transfer to Durham jail which was a mixed prison, and also where Sue was at the time. A mutual friend of ours, Frank was in the next-door cell to me at the time.

The women worked in the kitchens and had to walk past our exercise yard to get to work and back, they weren’t allowed to stop for a chat, but some women would walk slowly and Frank and I would walk with them. It was really good to chat face to face, both Frank and I were on a special diet at the time, it’s a normal diet but without meat, fish or eggs. This came in tin foil portions and was dreadful, it’s true to say that even the cockroaches wouldn’t eat it. So we told Sue about us being the only two guys on this menu and how awful it was. As it happened her best mate was in charge of preparing this menu. Sadly I cannot recall her name but she could cook Indian food beautifully well and that’s what she put in our foil portions after Sue had spoken to her, it also came with a separate salad, and a little fruit salad, often with chili dips or garlic sauce it was food that was able to make you smile and I applied to stay an additional month so that I could have visits from a friend in Durham, and the food and daily chats with Sue were just great. We kept in touch after her release from prison in 2005 and spoke and wrote regularly.

Sadly Frank is dead, and now Susan too, but I feel blessed having known them and shared a good friendship over many years. I’m sad for Sue because she really needed to clear her name, but the fight for her will go on I know. Sue, I miss you already but you will live on in my heart and in the hearts of so many others too. 


Listen to the audio recording of the Susan May Memorial Service, Saturday, 16 November, at 3:00pm, Bethesda Chapel corner of Dogford Road and Rochdale Road, Royton. Speakers at the service will include Paddy Joe Hill, Eric Allison and Sandra Gregory.

Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber
Innocent Jeremy Bamber