The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Paddy stands up for faith, hope and charity

PaddySeligman450In the second article of a series on Christian stewardship with high profile figures across Norfolk, John Myhill met Paddy Seligman, OBE, former magistrates chairman, a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk, chairman of the EDP We Care Appeal and a Canon of Norwich Cathedral.

Paddy, the informality of the name, gives a clue to her view of Stewardship.  For her it is the privilege of being able to help people whose own lives are so inspiring and full of potential. 
Mrs Penelope Anne Seligman OBE, JP, DL was a powerful Magistrates’ Bench Chairman.  She began on the Inner London Magistrates’ courts in 1980 and retired from active court life in 2011.  She became a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk in 2003 and an Ambassador for Girl Guiding in 2005.  She is a dynamic leader, imperturbable in a crisis and always brings a sharp mind to every discussion (she refers to duplicate bridge as “relaxation”); but it is her fascination for those she meets, which makes her such a good listener.
For her first 25 years in Norfolk, she lived in an old farmhouse, but has downsized to a more ecological, warm, manageable building.  She is her own cook, cleaner and gardener.  She tries to choose fair trade goods, eats vegetables in season and tries to buy local produce. She is particularly concerned by cruelty to animals, as seen in the breeding of vicious dogs.  She and her husband, Anthony, live a simple life and take holidays in Britain.
She is best known for her fabulous fund raising for the “EDP We Care” appeal: now approaching the two million pounds mark.  The interest from the fund is paid to those who care for a sick or disabled relative – providing such simple things as a new washing machine, a hairdresser, or a holiday when the cared for person is in respite care which can all transform lives.  There are estimated to be 100,000 carers in Norfolk: 1 in 7 of the population.
“The carers are heroic people with such modest requests,” says Paddy who, along with the other trustees, are all volunteers. The only cost to the scheme is a part-time administrator, so people know that their donation is assisting the carers directly.
The money is invested ethically and brings in an excellent rate of return.
I asked how she felt about the text “Judge not that ye be not judged” and her answer was that she had seen the potential and hope for reform of prisoners, having served on the Board of Visitors, across the whole range of prisons from Feltham Young Offenders to Whitemoor maximum security, as well as Norwich and Wayland Prisons. 
Paddy is full of admiration for the work of prison staff.  But she has also worked as a volunteer for Victim Support and sees the need for firm penalties for those who break the rules.  She has a son, daughter and two adult grandchildren.
She remains active in her local country church, but this also leaves time to participate fully as a Canon of Norwich Cathedral.  She particularly enjoys meeting the new priests and deacons at their annual services.  She has been chair of the Norfolk Ecumenical Justice Forum since its start in 2006.  This brings together Christians from all denominations who are involved with keeping Norfolk as the safest county in England.  She has chaired NORCAS and the County Domestic Violence Forum and been a member of the Police Authority, so she brings a wide range of experience to this role.
With my own mental health background, I was most interested in her work for the Mental Health Review Tribunal and more recently as a Mental Health Hospital Manager at Rowan House, Buxton and Jeesal Cawston Park, secure mental hospitals; and the carers who are coping with people suffering from psychotic illness.  Her stories about individual cases indicate her deep understanding of human trauma and hope, in all its rich diversity.
Paddy has always been concerned that employees of the organisations which she has led should be properly remunerated, and that volunteers should feel truly valued; and she is concerned that some caring organisations may be failing to meet these goals.  But Paddy is very focussed and cannot be distracted to wider issues from the work she has undertaken to do.

Pictured above is Paddy Seligman.
Click below to read the previous articles in this series
George Szirtes and Clarissa Upchurch

Richard Bacon

Hilary Cox

Rupert Read

Goff Hope

William Armstrong

Richard Jewson
Henry and Ski Cator
Paddy Seligman

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