Audrey (R) with Mrs Djalili

Audrey (R) with Mrs Djalili

Audrey Cameron was a woman ahead of her time and in constant devotion to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh she loved so well. She was born in Golders Green, London. Her father, Jules, of White Russian descent, was a musical director and violinist, and her mother, Grace, a pianist, was descended from Polish aristocracy. Both parents were Jewish and her grandfather had been a rabbi.

Audrey was brought up in the Jewish Faith, although neither parent was orthodox Jew. She was one of two daughters and the family moved a great deal, as both parents were musicians and toured around the country. Their two greatest loves in their lives were their two daughters and their music. Audrey did not pursue her parents’ musical avenue, turning instead to dramatic art and subsequently becoming a very wonderful actress. She toured around the country in repertory theatre, appearing in many plays, including “Peg of My Heart” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”, where she had the lead role. It was while she was in repertory theatre in Halifax, Yorkshire, appearing in “Deep are the Roots” that she met her husband, Earl, a Bermudian and also an actor, starring in the same play in a leading role. They married in 1955, and had five children – Jane, Simon, Helen, Serena and Philippa.

It was in 1963 that Audrey first heard of the Faith, together with her husband, Earl. Roy Stines, a Baha’i from Earl’s home country of Bermuda, happened to be in London to attend the Bahá’í World Congress being held at the Royal Albert Hall. He contacted Earl, who had been a childhood friend, and asked whether they would like to accompany him to the event. As Audrey had babysitting duties, Earl went on his own. At first, he was reluctant to attend, expecting it to be, as he put it ‘a rather dull evening with a lot of half-alive attendees’. Audrey, however, had an instinct that this could somehow change their lives and she encouraged him to go. Earl has recounted that on entering the room, he knew immediately that this was something both he and Audrey could identify with, and the diverse mix of races and the buzz of excited conversation and happy faces in the auditorium enthralled him. He so wished that Audrey could have been with him. A year later both he and Audrey became Baha’is, and from that moment on she devoted her entire life to the Faith, teaching Bahá’í children’s classes for many years at the Bahá’í Centre in Knightsbridge, London, and serving as secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kensington and Chelsea.

In 1968 the whole family home-front-pioneered to Ealing, where Audrey was secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly for eight years. She also served as secretary of the Personal Consultative Committee during that time. Regular firesides were held at the Cameron home on Friday evenings, attended by large numbers of Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, and many people declared.  Some of these were from the Ealing Borough, thus enabling the Ealing Community to grow and become established.

In 1976, the family moved to Welwyn-Hatfield, on the outskirts of London, where another community was formed; there had only been three Bahá’ís in the area. They were there for three years and, as a result of regular firesides and Bahá’ís visiting from all over the world, met Bahá’ís who were living in the Solomon Islands.

Knowing the importance of pioneering to the islands in the Pacific, the Cameron family were on the move again, greatly encouraged by Counsellor Suhayl Ala’i. Earl visited the Solomon Islands during 1978 with the aim of exploring a means of livelihood in these beautiful islands. The opportunity arose with the purchase of an ice cream business, made possible through the sale of their house, and in 1980 Audrey was secretary once again – this time of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Honiara, the capital. She and Earl continued tirelessly to teach the Faith, travelling together in a pick­up truck to the outlying villages, often under very difficult circumstances, her good humour and spirit of sacrifice unflagging, and the love of Bahá’u’lláh eternally in her heart throughout every experience and ordeal. She continued to help anyone needing her assistance, and when she heard that a fellow Bahá’í required an architect to work in his office, she remembered that Charles Boyle, a Bahá’í living in the Henley community was an architect, and wrote to him. Not only did Charles subsequently pioneer to the Solomon Islands, but he remained there for a good number of years, going on to marry and eventually settle in Australia.

The Cameron family in 1978 L to R: Serena, Jane, Earl, Audrey, Simon, Helen

The Cameron family in 1978
L to R: Serena, Jane, Earl, Audrey, Simon, Helen

In 1989 Audrey regretfully left the Solomon Islands to be with her daughter, Philippa, who was in the final years of her education at drama school in London. After spending some time in Singapore, where Philippa also attended a drama school, she returned to Ealing, where she had many fond memories, and settled happily into community life.

It was in 1991 that she found she had the cancer that eventually confined her to bed, but her strong resolve and determination neverthe­less remained undiminished. Her radiance and loving spirit continued to shine despite the pain of her illness, until finally she had to go into hospital, where she peacefully passed away on 27 January 1994.

A memorial service was held for Audrey Cameron in her beloved Ealing, attended by all her numerous friends and relatives, including many of the LSA members with whom she had served more than 20 years before.

__________________

Jane Cameron

September 2013

Audrey as a young woman

Audrey as a young woman

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