It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of David Gillam’s wife, Ann Marie, who passed away last Wednesday 30.08.17. As well as being a Safe Families Trustee, David and his wife Ann Marie were some of our first and most passionate volunteers.
Ann Marie’s life has truly touched the hearts of so many people and particularly so many vulnerable families and children during her time as a Safe Families for Children volunteer.
Safe Families Tribute to Ann Marie Gillam
“Ann Marie Gilliam was a very bright light, a very warm and special person. As a volunteer, she represented the true heart of Safe Families and she embraced each family she supported, treating them as if they were her own. Nothing was ever too difficult, or too challenging. Vulnerable children with learning difficulties were her niche and she would go the extra mile to ensure that they felt valued, loved and welcome in her home. Ann Marie cared for 10 children as a volunteer and welcomed them into her home for a total of 38 nights.
“I fondly remember the first child Ann Marie and David looked after who was endearingly nicknamed the ‘Bentley baby’ due to the circumstances in which Ann Marie and the baby first met. They befriended this family for 3 years and had the child stay over for 11 nights.
On another occasion, the mother of a child they had supported was driving from Scotland back to the North East and had a car accident. The car was written off and Mum was left without transport. Ann Marie looked after Mum’s youngest child and David drove several hundred miles to pick Mum up from hospital and bring her safely home.
But the story that is my fondest memory is when they took in 5 children and Mum was about to have number 6. Mum gave birth to number 6 before the ambulance and Ann Marie arrived. On leaving hospital, Ann Marie and David took in all 7 members of the family, including Mum!” Sonia Daniel, North East Senior Family Support Manager
Keith Danby, Chief Executive of Safe Families, said “Ann Marie and David were not only among the very first volunteers to join Safe Families, but also, they were by far among our most active Host Families and Family Friends. Together they epitomised ‘the heart of Safe Families’. She will be sadly missed but her legacy will always be special to us as a charity. A few year ago we started to hold a National Staff Conference. At this conference we honour our staff with special achievement awards. The final award goes to the staff member that most epitomises the values of Safe Families. We call this award ‘The Heart of Safe Families’. From next January this award will be renamed the ‘Ann Marie Gillam Heart of Safe Families Award’.”
The funeral will be held at Jesmond Parish Church, Eskdale Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4DJ at 12.45pm on Friday 15th September 2017.