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Character Profiles > Pam Willis Sue Jones

Pamela 'Pam' Willis (née Beresford) 1990-1994, 1996, 2014, 2016
Lived: 28 Ramsay Street

Parents: Seamus and Moina Beresford
Marital Status: Doug Willis (1967-2016; Died)
Children: Adam, John, Gaby, Brad and Cody
Family Tree: Willis/Beresford
Occupation: Nurse at Erinsborough & District Hospital

The daughter of an Irish immigrant, Seamus Beresford, and his wife Moina, Pamela Beresford was already a trained nurse and studying to be a physiotherapist when she met and fell in love with builder Doug Willis. Pam had been driving her father's taxi one night when she picked up a naked man as a passenger, who was Doug forced into the embarrassing situation due to a dare from his mates. The couple immediately fell in love, and they married in 1967. Due to their volatile tempers, Pam and Doug would regularly have massive "blues", but deep down, they were devoted to each other.

Pam gave birth to their first child, Adam, in 1969 before losing their second child to cot death. The experience led to Pam becoming a fervent fundraiser for SIDS, in the hope that she could in some way help mothers in a similar position. Three more children followed for Pam - Gaby, Brad and Cody, and she forfeited her nursing career to raise them. As the kids got older and Gaby and Brad left home, Pam and Doug decided to sell up and move to a smaller, more comfortable home in Ramsay Street. Cody was already familiar to the neighbours since she had been dating Todd Landers, who lived with his family, the Robinsons next door. And Pam soon became a valued addition to the community, always ready to lend a hand in times of crisis, particularly when any locals had medical queries to run by her. It was actually soon after moving into Ramsay Street that Pam decided to return to her nursing career, a decision Doug was initially against. But Pam was determined to start doing something for herself after spending the past twenty years bringing up the family, and after re-taking her nursing exams, she returned to work at Erinsborough Hospital. Adam delighted his mum by also opting for a medical career, and Pam was thrilled when Cody announced her plans to do the same.

Financial problems were a regular occurrence in the Willis household, as slumps in the building trade often saw Doug out of work. Further money troubles occurred when Brad was falsely imprisoned in Asia for drug trafficking while he was returning home from a two-year exchange programme in the States. Pam and Doug were forced to fly out to Baghee to bail Brad out because the sentence for drug smuggling in the country was death. It looked for a time as if Pam and Doug would have to sell up and move to a smaller house. But eldest daughter Gaby, who had also recently returned to the family fold, saved the day by tricking one of Doug's debtors to pay up the $10,000 he owed the construction company.

A pregnancy scare was next on the agenda for Pam when she was two weeks late with her period, but just as she had gotten used to the idea of being a mother all over again, it transpired that Pam was actually going through the menopause.

Well used to Doug's flirting with other women, Pam paid no attention to Doug's friendship with newcomer Brenda Riley, who had taken over the Coffee Shop from Madge and Harold Bishop. Doug, too, only saw the time he spent with Brenda as a bit of harmless flirting. But Brenda actually fell head over heels for Doug, and was convinced that he was in love with her too, and was going to leave Pam and the kids for her. Brenda finally threw herself at Doug and kissed him when they found themselves alone at the Coffee Shop one day. Gaby witnessed the kiss, and told Pam, who confronted Doug about his relationship with Brenda. Doug insisted that it was nothing more than a bit of flirting, and even after Pam revealed Gaby had seen the kiss, he maintained that he was not having an affair with Brenda. Pam trusted Doug and believed that it was all in Brenda's mind. Pam even felt sorry for Brenda, especially after Doug broke the news to her that he had never felt anything other than friendship towards her, and she made a point of assuring Brenda she didn't hold any hard feelings towards her so that they could put it all behind them.

When Garth Kirby, an old workmate of Doug's, grew ill, Pam became his personal nurse for the last few weeks of his life. But Garth was in so much pain, he pleaded with Pam to give him over the amount of prescribed medication in order for him to be put out of his misery. But Pam refused, not believing in euthanasia, and not wanting to risk her medical career either. However, when Pam next paid Garth a visit at his house, she was horrified to find his lifeless body. After an autopsy, the police discovered he had taken too much of his medicine and arrested Pam, believing she had helped to kill him. The Willises' lawyer nephew Cameron Hudson arrived in Erinsborough to defend Pam, and he realised that on her last visit to Garth's house, Pam had left her medical bag unattended for a few minutes during which time Garth had obviously taken the pills to kill himself. Pam was cleared of all charges but on returning to work, her supervisor Gail Williams gave her a hard time and the two became enemies.

Always interested in charity work and good causes, Pam became closer to Jim Robinson when they worked together on a fundraising board. And after Pam helped Jim recover from a heart bypass operation, Jim began to fall in love with her. Although Pam also found herself grappling with feelings for Jim, she would never contemplate loving anyone other than her Doug. Doug, however, was suspicious of the closeness between Pam and Jim, and when he was away on business and called home to find Jim answering the phone, he was convinced they were having an affair. This led Doug to sleep with the crazed Jill Weir, a woman who had developed an obsession with him in recent months and who had followed him to his hotel to seduce him. Doug was racked with guilt afterwards, and as soon as he got back to Ramsay Street, confessed his adultery to Pam. A disgusted Pam threw Doug out and sought comfort in Jim's arms. They kissed, but Jim told Pam that their relationship could never go further because he would never get past the fact that she was his mate's wife. Pam, meanwhile, pressed ahead with divorce plans but she had a change of heart after Doug and Brad went missing at sea and the prospect of losing Doug led Pam to realise she was still in love with him. After Doug and Brad were found safe and well, Pam forgave Doug for his affair and he moved back in.

Pam's relationship with Brad encountered problems when she took an instant dislike to his girlfriend, Lauren Carpenter. Pam's real problem with Lauren lay in the fact that Brad had been due to marry Beth Brennan who Pam looked on as a daughter, and he had cheated on Beth with Lauren in the weeks leading up to their planned wedding. Pam and Brad fell out further when Brad started gambling, and she feared he was on the verge of becoming an addict. After twice pleading with him to stop and then proceeding to catch him gambling again each time, Pam finally vented her anger at Brad and insisted he stop. But Brad responded by accusing her of interfering in his life and moved out and over the road to stay with Lauren and her dad, Lou, Brad eventually admitted he had a problem, and made his peace with Pam before leaving to work as a bartender on a cruise ship for a couple of months.

As always, problems were never far away for the Willis family - after Doug's business was audited, Doug and Pam were shocked to find out they owed the government $70,000. Convinced there was some sort of mistake, Pam lodged a complaint with the auditors and a second audit was carried out on the business. However, this audit found them to owe even more than $70,000 and they were faced with no alternative but to sell the business. Constructocon bought the firm from Doug, and kept him on as a foreman but they fired him after he complained about poor safety regulations. Doug then found it difficult to get a job and lied to Pam about landing a job as a foreman with a rival firm, just to save face. It transpired he couldn't handle the idea of Pam being the only breadwinner in the household after so many years but when he came clean, Pam worked out an arrangement whereby she would take some extra shifts at the hospital and he could look after the running of the home. Luckily, Doug found himself a job as a sales rep for a building supplier and it gave him some of his pride back.

The extra shifts at the hospital eventually took their toll on Pam, however, and she collapsed from exhaustion one evening at No.28. And when she contracted a nasty bout of flu too, she was told to take several weeks of work to recuperate. Helen Daniels helped Pam keep herself busy while she was off work by teaching her how to paint, and although Pam's initial attempts at painting were disastrous, she gradually improved and was thrilled when one of her pieces was chosen for a gallery exhibition.

Pam was over the moon when Brad and Beth got back together, and threw herself into making plans for their wedding again. But this time round, Brad and Beth didn't want as much of a fuss and skipped town the morning of the planned wedding. They were married in a registry office on their way to a new life in Perth, but they were forced to return to Erinsborough and go ahead with the "real" wedding after Pam and Doug flagged down the bus they were leaving for Perth on and dragged them back to Ramsay Street. Pam was devastated when she finally had to bid Brad and Beth farewell, but Cody had at least recently rejoined the family, back from her two-year scholarship in the States.

Cody took a while to settle back into life in Ramsay Street, however. Pam put it down to the fact that none of her old friends were still around, and attempted to cheer Cody up by introducing her to Debbie Martin, in the hope that a new friend would make her feel better. But it was Debbie's brother Michael who Cody was really interested in, and they started seeing each other. Pam was dead against this idea, primarily due to the fact that Michael had only recently been released from detention centre and she feared he would be a bad influence on her daughter. Pam's mistrust of Michael also caused a massive rift to develop between Pam and Michael's parents, Philip and Julie. Pam's fears increased, meanwhile, when Cody begun to ask her questions about drugs, and she suspected Michael was getting Cody involved with drugs. Pam told Julie about her suspicions and Julie insisted Pam had it all wrong. Julie brought Pam over to her house to confront Michael about the accusation and it appeared Pam's cause for concern were legitimate when they walked in on Michael with a syringe in his hand. However, it eventually transpired that the syringe belonged to Danni Stark, who had diabetes, and that was what Cody had recently been inquisitive about with Pam. Pam was forced to apologise to Michael for thinking the worst and she agreed to give him a second chance.

When Pam started attending Helen's art classes, she befriended Tom Weaver, a widowed estate agent. Pam confided in Tom about her various family problems - Gaby had recently revealed she was pregnant and wouldn't name the father, and Cody announced she had gotten married while living in America - while Tom received great support from Pam when his son was brought into hospital after suffering from an epileptic fit. and she was flattered when he sent her a bouquet of flowers afterwards to thank her. The bond that developed between the two culminated in Tom proposing to Pam, taking her completely by surprise. Tom even went as far as telling Doug that he was in love with his wife, infuriating Doug in the process. Pam was hurt when Doug accused her of having an affair, and she quickly reminded him of his fling with Jill Weir. Tom, meanwhile, gracefully withdrew his marriage proposal after having a long talk with Doug in which he admitted that he missed his own wife and had tried to fill the void by falling in love with Pam.

When Pam and Cheryl Stark began to make plans for a couples weekend away with Doug and Lou, they quickly decided a women's only weekend retreat would be a much better idea. Gaby joined them for the retreat in the countryside, but the women's peace was interrupted by the arrival of Doug and Lou, who had followed them to spy on their activities. However, when Gaby was left on her own while the couples enjoyed a walk, she panicked when she started to bleed and feared she was suffering a miscarriage. Gaby was rushed to hospital and was relieved when the doctors confirmed that she hadn't lost the baby but was ordered to rest in bed for the time being. However, Pam was annoyed when she and Doug walked in on Gaby sending faxes and phoning business associates from her sick bed.

When Pam revealed a secret love of motorbikes to an elderly patient, stroke victim Penelope, she was taken by surprise when Penelope gave her vintage bike to Pam so that it wouldn't go to waste. Before long, Pam was attending bike rallies and on one such rally, met up with some other bikers and took to travelling through Canberra with them. Of course, Pam's motorcycle came in handy when Gaby went in labour and Doug was nowhere in sight with any transport to get her to the birthing centre. Luckily, Gaby managed to seat herself in the sidecar of the motorcycle and was whisked to the birthing centre by Pam, where she later gave birth to a baby boy, Zac. Meanwhile, Pam decided that she couldn't hold onto the bike following Penelope's death and opted to return it to her family.

Pam was upset when Gaby announced she was not having Zac christened because she thought it was hypocritical for non-churchgoers to participate in the ceremony. However, Pam was satisfied when Gaby agreed to have a naming ceremony to welcome Zac into the world instead, and a thrilled Pam immediately made plans to have Brad, Beth and Adam attend. However, Pam was forced to say goodbye to Gaby and her new grandson shortly afterwards when Gaby took up the position of manager at the new Lassiter's Hotel in Darwin.

More financial strife loomed for the Willis family, meanwhile, when cutbacks at the hospital led to Pam losing her job. So when Gaby asked Doug if he would be interested in taking on the job of constructing the new Lassiter's resort up in Darwin, the couple decided to sell up and leave Erinsborough behind for a new life in the Northern Territory.

Their new found happiness in Darwin was shattered a year later when Cody was shot in a dramatic shootout between drug dealers and undercover police in Ramsay Street. Pam immediately flew back to Ramsay Street to keep a bedside vigil by her daughter but Doug was unable to get down straight away because he was in the middle of a huge building contract. There was relief all round when Cody showed signs of recovery, and to give Pam a rest, the Kennedys - the new occupants of No.28 - invited Pam over for drinks so that she could have a look at the old family home. At first, Pam's spirits were high as she helped Susan locate a box of Doug's home brew from up in the roof, but later on, she became withdrawn and preoccupied with worries for Cody. Karl assured her that everything was going much better with Cody now, and she would be making a full recovery. But Pam started to reveal how upset she was that Doug hadn't been able to make it down to see her, and she revealed that they were having serious financial difficulties at the moment which was why he couldn't leave the job he had on. The next morning, a more upbeat Pam started making plans with Cody to hold a big family reunion up in Darwin as soon as she's back on her feet, and Cody was thrilled with the idea. But when Pam went to get some photos of Zac from her bag, Cody suddenly took a turn and started arresting. Pam screamed for help as Cody called for her to help her, and the doctors rushed to try and revive Cody. But Pam was devastated when the surgeon came out from the operating theatre and broke the news to her that Cody had died. A heartbroken Pam kissed her beloved daughter goodbye, telling her how very proud she and Doug were of her. Before returning to Darwin with Cody's body for the funeral, Pam attended a beautiful memorial service for Cody by Lassiter's Lake where her many friends paid tribute to her.

It was almost twenty years before Pam set foot back in Erinsborough again. 2013 had seen Brad return to the area with his second wife, Terese and their teenaged twins, Josh and Imogen, and Doug was paying a visit the family when his behaviour started to concern them, with Josh picking up on several incidents where his grandfather's memory was failing him. After he disappeared one night, then turned up with a cut on his head, talking about going to meet Cody, he was taken to hospital, where tests indicated that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. At first they went into denial, but as Doug and Brad accepted what was happening, they asked Pam to fly down from Darwin so that they could deal with things as a family. However, when Pam arrived, she immediately dismissed Doug's illness as a lie to cover up the fact that he was having an affair. She then listed some recent occasions when he'd disappeared for hours at a time, and lied about where he was going, and explained that he'd even dropped Jill Weir's name into the conversation. It wasn't until Karl told her about his own father's battle with dementia, and took her through the findings of Doug's hospital tests, that she began to face up to what was happening, feeling terrible that, after 30 years of nursing, she hadn't picked up on any of the signs with her own husband.

As Pam apologised to Doug for doubting him, he struggled to forgive her and it seemed that, after almost 50 years, the Willis marriage might be in serious trouble. However, after Josh made a memory book for his grandfather, and Brad showed his parents that they'd been through lots of challenges and had made it through, they realised that they needed to remain strong for Doug's illness. Though Brad and Terese asked them to come back to Erinsborough and live with them, Pam and Doug decided, after all the recent reminiscing, that they wanted to do some travelling, visiting places they'd always wanted to see, and creating new memories to share when times got tough. And so, after a sad goodbye, during which Doug told his family to look after each other and to make the most of life, Pam and Doug set off on another adventure.

Eighteen months later, with Doug's condition worsening, and Pam struggling to cope, he came down to stay in Erinsborough for a while. As he started to forget his own family members, Doug was aware that his time was running out, and he made it his mission to reunite Brad with his estranged son, Ned. Though his plan worked, it also put him at the hotel when the boiler exploded, and Doug, as well as Josh, lost their lives. Pam flew down from Darwin for Josh's funeral, and was immediately uncomfortable with Ned's presence. Lauren, who was by then in a relationship with Brad, noticed the tension, and Pam explained that, when Ned had been living with her and Doug, he'd been involved with a gang and had arranged for them to rob her home, but she'd unexpectedly been at the house and had caught them in the act. Doug had persuaded Pam not to tell Brad about the incident, though she had never forgiven Ned for his actions. As the funeral approached, and the family also discussed an appropriate send-off for Doug, the problems with Pam and Ned only worsened, and Brad found out what had gone on. At the wake, Pam finally opened up to Lauren and admitted that a lot of her anger was because of Doug's death, and how she was angry with herself for feeling relieved that he'd gone. She then took Ned for a coffee and apologised for her behaviour, and although he told her that he was happy to have another chance to connect with his father, it seemed that perhaps he wasn't being entirely honest, and that he still held a lot of resentment towards Brad.

Trivia Notes
• Sue Jones previously guest-starred in 1986 as Peggy O'Hara

1261-2239, 2577-2581, 6876-6880, 7345-7347

Magic Moments
Episode 2239: The Willises' Departure

Biography by Moe