Earl Cameron after being awarded the CBE at Buckingham Palace (2009) with his wife Barbara and his daughters Serena and Jane

Earl Cameron after being awarded the CBE at Buckingham Palace (2009)
with Barbara, and Earl’s daughters Serena and Jane

I had lovely parents and grandparents, who all were members of the Church of England. We moved from Lincoln to Manchester when I was six years old: just as war broke out. My father was an engineer who used to travel overseas on engineering jobs – to countries like Borneo and West Africa – and during the War Mum had the task of looking after me, an 11 year old, and my six months old baby sister. We all survived the war; my father working, between jobs, for the fire service.

I attended Lakes Road School for Girls in Duckinfield, Cheshire, and then I went on to college to do a secretarial course. Until I became a Bahá’í I was a member of the Church of England.

I heard about the Faith in Bermuda on 7 December 1978 through Dr Frederick W Ming, when he told me he could not be involved in the political meeting we were going to that evening. I was shocked as he and I both needed to be there. When I asked why, he said that he had become a Bahá’í and so he could not be involved.  I was very upset as the meeting was about the school he taught at, and I was President of the PTA. Anyway, I went to the meeting. Afterwards he met me outside with Bahá’í friends Vivian Stines and Shamsi Sedeghat who was a travel teacher. I was asked if I would like to go to a ‘fireside’. I said “a fireside in Bermuda? At this time of year?”

After some thought I said I would go along, so I went to Vivian’s house, and there I met several people. Those I remember by name were Barbara and Frank Esposito; Valerie Richmond; and Georgia Sanchez, but others’ names escape me. Anyway, after much talking and questioning I began to see that the Bahá’í Faith was what the world needed, so I declared at 01.00 on 8th December, 1978, one day after I had first heard of the Faith! I dare not say what my then husband (not Earl) said to me when I arrived home!

The people who were most instrumental in my spiritual development as a Bahá’í were Dr Fred Ming and Vivian Stines along with the Espositos and Georgia Sanchez.

The highlights in my life as a Bahá’í have been home front pioneering in Somerset (Bermuda) and attending the first Bahá’í National Convention in Bermuda, 24 to 26 April 1981, where we met Glenford E Mitchell, representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States (who later became a member of the Universal House of Justice).  Then there was the Ridván Message from the Universal House of Justice presented by the Hand of the Cause of God Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, representative of the Supreme Institution. Later on there was a presentation by Continental Counsellor Sarah M. Pereira. We also had a showing of the film “The Pilgrimage”.  All this was quite overwhelming for me.

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Here is where my life changes a little. On 12 September 1994 I left Bermuda after thirty years residing there, to marry Earl Cameron in London on 19 September 1994. Earl has been a dedicated Bahá’í since 1963, and by a strange coincidence he too had been introduced to the Bahá’í Faith by Roy Stines, the late husband of Vivian Stines, in whose house in Bermuda I had declared in 1978.

In November 1994 I was elected to the Spiritual Assembly of Ealing (West London) and served on the Assembly for about ten years. Earl and I then moved to Kenilworth, Warwickshire. We had a Local Spiritual Assembly there which unfortunately lapsed when three Bahá’ís moved away.

Earl and I went on pilgrimage in 2000. One day it was raining when we came out of the Shrine of the Báb, and not having previously met all the members of the House of Justice, I didn’t recognise the very kind gentleman who came up to us and offered to share his umbrella with me. I later learnt that it was the late Ian Semple. When I realised who it was (Earl told me afterwards) I could not help but feel embarrassed, because all I said was “Thank you very much”!

In November 1998 Earl and I attended the Centenary Congress in Paris marking the hundredth anniversary of the first Bahá’í Centre in Europe. What a weekend that was! It was wonderful. Time went by all too quickly.

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Barbara Cameron

Warwickshire, July 2012

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