Lady Paddina Cole

Lady Paddina Cole (1915-2003)

Paddina was born in Dublin in 1915 and spent her early years in Ireland before spending time in Germany. A life that touched many people very deeply, Paddina had a generosity and warmth of spirit seldom seen. She was an example to many and, however long or short the time of knowing her, she always made an impact.

As a result of her German education she was enlisted into the Special Operations Executive in the Second World war when she was parachuted into France. Shortly after, she was captured and interrogated at the Nazi Gestapo headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch in Paris before being sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Whilst at the Avenue Foch a German doctor gave Paddina his iron cross, which demonstrates the effect she had on people. After the war this doctor got in touch with Paddina, which must have been quite an emotional reunion and sheds a little light on those dark times. Paddina was flown back to England from Ravensbruch after the war, weighing only 5 stone - her body was obviously in a very bad state. She underwent a number of operations, earning the respect of many along the way in her battle to survive.

Paddina and Gordon were married in 1963 and lived first in Kingston and then Richmond. She had a fondness for animals and they drew near to her with no fear whatsoever. Whilst living at Richmond Paddina took on the rearing of a young squirrel she called Pippa and it lived with her and Gordon until finding a mate. Even then, Pippa would return and showed off her mate and brood. Another occasion when visiting a farm, Gordon was amazed when Paddina started talking to a group of pigs. They immediately came over to her and it was quite obvious they were responding to her words and tone. This was Paddina, whoever and whatever she touched seemed to respond in a positive way.

In 1971 Paddina and Gordon moved to Ravens Hall in Lindsey, In Suffolk, drawn mainly by the open skis and freshness of the region. A year later they started the Fellowship of Erasmus charity and the work that followed affected many. As a clinical psychologist she was able to help many people with various problems, using her spiritual gifts alongside her professional qualifications. They moved to the Bungalow at Ofton in 1985, transforming the home and gardens, with the help of a loyal band of friends, into a place of peace and beauty. In 1992 they moved again, this time to Laxfield where again they made their mark on a new house and gardens — where work continues today. The gardens, which are still maturing, are rightly being called 'The Peace Gardens' because they are truly a place of peace and tranquility.

One aspect of Paddina that really stood out, was that she never refused help to anyone no matter how inconvenient it was to herself. This applied to animals as well as her fellow humans.

This trait underpinned the work of The Erasmus Foundation, as the Fellowship became known. Paddina always hoped that others would carry on the Foundation's work. Indeed I am sure this is everyone's wish, particularly for those of us who are close to the Foundation.

The Erasmus Foundation was Paddina's baby — she founded, cherished and nourished it. And I believe that the greatest tribute that we can all pay to Paddina is to develop this small flickering spark that we call the Erasmus Foundation and surround it with our own endeavours — so that it bursts into being a wonderful beacon, full of energy, colour and light. We will be equipped to carry out the intended wok of The Erasmus Fo8ndation and in the fullness of time achieve its objectives.

As Paddina would say............"Sequat deo Laudum".

A tribute from Gordon.

“Paddina and I met in business in 1959. Very soon it became evident that we made a good team at work and it was not long before I developed a deep affection for Paddina and we decided to get married. Words fail to adequately describe the depth of that affection, and my appreciation of Paddina's many fine qualities. Simply put, she was the staunchest, strongest, bravest and most generous person I have ever known. I feel a deep profound sadness through the loss of the very best friend I had on the Earth. Although Paddina is no longer here with us in body, I am quite confident that she continues to work for us all at Home, and as long as I live I will do my best to further the work of the Erasmus Foundation started by Paddina.
Paddina and I, soul mates for a very, very long time, will, God willing, live on together.”