In Memoriam – Freddy Beard



A Tribute by OVFM Chair Jane Oliver

Dear Freddy, where do I start?

Freddy was always there, part of the fabric of the club, her presence always felt. A warm welcome greeted all who crossed our threshold at OVFM. The club ran smoothly due to what she did in the background and the links she had fostered over time. Freddy had all the information one could ever ask for at her fingertips. She rubbed shoulders with people from all walks of life, no matter their standing and yet had some of the most beautiful traits that any human being could ever have, that of humility and servanthood. Nothing was ever too much and she was the one who would go out of her way in order to help someone else. We have so much to thank her for.

Take club evenings, as if by magic the lights would go on and off during our evening film shows at the appropriate times. When anyone else stepped up to do the lights in her absence, we’d have a light show; Switch off? No, on. Switch on? No, off and then another light would mysteriously come on.  Freddy was a little under the weather at our last meeting so offered to relieve her of ‘light duty’. Her response was firm, a most emphatic ‘NO’ and I knew exactly what that meant! Dogged, determined, Freddy’s philosophy was that nothing would ‘defeat’ her.

…. And the notice board, pictures, posters, rules, minutes, reports, news and adverts, the magazines, the badges, the event boards that did the rounds for members to sign up to; where did they appear from? only to disappear at the end of the evening.

…. And at the interval; who would invariably be behind the serving hatch? Even at the last meeting she volunteered, serving us again despite not feeling particularly well.

How faithfully she served us. Nothing ever seemed to be too much.  She got on with her duties quietly and unassumingly; her effectiveness as OVFM club secretary was second to none. Wherever did she get her energy? When most of us had dropped into bed, exhausted from the last committee meeting that had, once more, gone on too long, she would sit up into the wee small hours typing up the minutes to ensure everything was in order. I sometimes wondered if she ever slept when I saw the ‘time’ her emails were sent.

Freddy would be out filming at the Big O Festival and other local events to gather material for the newsreel. Nothing was too much, despite her huge commitment to Oxfam where she worked as a volunteer for many years.

This behaviour, this servanthood, went far beyond the boundaries of OVFM.  At SERIAC, The Kent Film Festival, BIAFF, UNICA and the like, you’d see her busy with one duty or another; ‘light duty’ catering, serving, clearing up, sorting out the raffle, or hiding in the broom cupboard sorting through hundreds of envelopes to return films and provide judges’ comments to the filmmakers. She’d be carting films and equipment back and forth whenever and wherever it was needed … and when we needed props, well, she had plenty of sources.

…. And the social occasions, garden parties, Christmas functions and when the club was together as a group to film….  who’d be part of the set up team, the catering team, the clearing up team, or whatever other team you had created?  Freddy.

…. And as though her OVFM role wasn’t enough, she found herself on the KFF Committee for many years and was the Treasurer of SERIAC.  Freddy would travel the world to get to a film festival and was welcomed at clubs across the globe, where she was known and loved.

She fully deserved her fellowship to the IAC, although typically, she tried to turn in down believing she was unworthy.

I was so pleased that Ian showed us his little film starring Freddy at our last meeting and that she was there to enjoy it. So beautiful and poignant, a lasting memory that we will have forever, thanks to Ian and Freddy.

Freddy, you were loved and will be sorely missed. Such a character, life experiences etched into your face, cut deep with laughter lines and dimples. A face engraved indelibly upon my memory, together with the sound of your distinctive voice and unmistakable chuckle; a memory that many others share.

Our thoughts are with Freddy’s three boys, Alan, Michael and Andrew and their loved ones at this sad time.

19 Replies to “In Memoriam – Freddy Beard”

  1. Freddy was quite simply, the heart and soul of OVFM, and no doubt every other club or organisation she was a member of or involved with. Her (almost literal) tireless efforts in keeping everything on an even keel were probably taken for granted because Freddy was such an omnipotent presence at our club meetings, film shows and film shoots that it was as natural as breathing oxygen for things to run smoothly under her watch.

    Miraculously, away from OVFM, Freddy not only found time to duplicate the same duties with SERIAC, she also volunteered with Oxfam AND made regular trips to Poland. How she found the energy I will never know – I’m half her age yet can barely get out of bed without falling asleep again! Baffling yet awe-inspiring.

    But there was more to Freddy than the industrious and efficient workhorse – she was a warm, kind, and welcoming person whose natural charisma and self-effacing demeanour put everyone at ease. And if there were fun to be had and hair to be let down, Freddy would be the first to raid her wacky wardrobe for that creatively silly ensemble to give us a titter or two.

    Softly spoken yet boundlessly enthusiastic, my abiding memory is from those occasions when Freddy drove me home after club meetings. Forget the “sweet little old lady” appearance, Freddy knew where the accelerator pedal was and how to use it, getting me home in record time, barely pausing to let me free my finger nails from the dashboard!

    Rather poignantly, my last words to Freddy after thanking her for the lift home just two weeks ago, were “Now go get some rest” as Freddy was noticeably tired and a little forgetful. Little did I know she would take those words so literally, but at least she can now put her feet up and enjoy every second of her well-deserved leisure time – that is if she isn’t organising the next union meeting of the Arc Angels!

    Whilst of us at OVFM have lost a loyal, hard-working and frankly irreplaceable member, many of us have lost a friend. I might personally be taking liberties by calling Freddy that but that was how she made me feel and how I saw her, as she often contacted me outside of the club after reading one of my film reviews.

    Others who knew Freddy longer will have a deeper and stronger bond and a greater legitimacy for using that term, but I am sure we all feel the same – blessed to who have known someone with such an endearing and amiable personality, infectious energy, and inclusive, generous, and selfless attitude.

    Thank you Freddy for all you did for us as a club and to me on a personal level. You will be missed for your hard work and the joy you brought to us. Now go enjoy your rest – You’ve earned it.


  2. Beautifully said Lee. And so true to the last word. Thank you for putting into words what the rest of us are thinking/

      1. Indeed it is. And Annabelle’s … and Colin’s tributes too …everyone – we all have strong and powerful reasons for admiring and appreciating Freddy’s amazing presence. And not just at local clubs but also on the National and International scene too she is known and appreciated with equal affection. A tragic loss.

  3. Freddy was the embodiment of friendship and support between clubs. Any time we at Staines held an event to which Orpington were invited, unless there was a very good reason (like a clash with another major club event) Freddy would be there to support it, usually persuading a couple of carloads of other people to make the not inconsiderable journey at a very inconvenient time on the least popular night of the week. She never failed to come up with a compliment or words of encouragement about the films she saw.

    In the all too brief ten or so years that I have come to know and love Freddy, I appreciated that she is one of those rare people who just gets on and does what needs to be done without any fuss as has been so eloquently written about above. But unlike many back-room workhorses Freddy was always a presence, a front of house force to be reckoned with, who always made guests feel genuinely welcome.

    I was going to say I think of Freddy as the “Face of OVFM” but she was so much more, playing such a big part on the SERIAC Council and as one of the key organisers for the SERIAC Festival.

    I feel honoured and humbled to have known such a warm hearted and supportive lady, who had so much enthusiasm and energy (and who held her own in a lively debate about Brexit at the BIAFF Gala Dinner!)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share these kind words with us Tim, and for reminding us of how far outside OVFM Freddy’s legacy stretches in touching people’s lives.

  4. There’s little I can add to what has been said so eloquently already but I’d like to fill in the background of how Freddy became secretary of OVFM.
    I had been the secretary for 14 years when I felt it was getting on top of me and that I needed to stand down.
    However, I’d loved doing the job and was reluctant to hand my ‘baby’ over to just anybody when Mike Turner, who was chairman at the time, suggested one of our newer members.
    This was Freddy.
    The duties of secretary had been split into three and, as luck would have it, she had just been made redundant and was looking for something to fill her time, so she kindly agreed to take over the true secretarial bit so long as I shadowed her.
    I was delighted because from the first time she came to the club we simply ‘clicked’ and a true friendship developed.
    Needless to say she didn’t need much shadowing!

    She joined the IAC gradually getting more and more involved, and eventually doing a stint as chairman of SERIAC.
    In recent years she was their treasurer, and festival officer along with Rita Hayes.
    She also stepped in to join the committee that saved the Kent Festival from collapsing several years ago.

    Reg and I were long time attendees of UNICA, the world wide international film festival, and were delighted when we were able to persuade Freddy to join us.
    This resulted in her warmth and friendship touching film makers all over the world from Slovakia to South Korea.

    There is one thing some people might not know.
    Her husband, Len, was a night shift worker so during hours when he was absent, either asleep or working, Freddy embarked on an Open University degree where she was proud to gain a BSc.

    She followed many sports including Formula 1, cricket, cycling, and football as a Chelsea supporter.
    It was typical of Freddy’s adventurous spirit that she took herself off to Brazil for her 70th birthday where she was thrilled to be able to watch a football match at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro

    Freddy was our club secretary for sixteen years, and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
    Her loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives.

  5. The club will never seem the same without Freddy.
    I have always been amazed at her capacity to take on new jobs and get them done so neatly: such a range of jobs too.
    Freddy was always helpful to me when I had questions and dealt with them very efficiently.
    She was one of those rare persons who was much more able to express herself on paper than verbally and her passing is a great loss to the club.
    How sad! – Colin Jones.

  6. I think the vast majority of people who knew Freddy won’t have realised just how hard working for the club she was. I always remembered at the committee meetings, when ever you needed to know a fact or info from the past, she would delve into her paperwork, and produce it within seconds! She would always turn up with all the work she’d done for the evening, and be on top of all the topics to be discussed.

    As Jane Oliver said, she had a true heart for servanthood. A term that isn’t used much nowadays for sad reasons, but Freddy had it. If ever you needed something doing, it would be done. You almost had to be careful what you said, in case she took the job, and you’d feel guilty as she always had much more work on than you did!

    On the set of Blitz and Bananas, she was there for every shoot, and once she discovered that I liked Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches, there was a separate packet for me in the lunch she prepared, every time.
    She will be so greatly and hugely missed by anyone who had the pleasure of working with her.

  7. I send My heartfelt condolences to Freddy’s family and all concerned. Her absence indeed is going to leave a deep vacuum in our hearts for the untiring efforts she put in running OVFM. I still remember when I phoned her about my intention to join the club about just over a year ago,how welcoming she made me feel and I joined straight away.My prayers are to the Almighty to rest her departed soul in peace.kuldip

  8. To be honest, I am really not sure what to say here – sometimes there are feeling that need to be left unspoken.

    I was not around the club much for the last few years, and missed the last few festivals because of illnesses of my own forcing a withdrawal from most club / IAC related things, but I could always say that whenever I did appear at any time, and at any place, Freddy was probably the one person in the room who you could approach knowing that her attitude to you was one of true friendship.

    I wish that I could make the 1st but I will be in a far distant place on business.

    I’ll greatly miss her.

  9. we lost one of the most oldest and effective volunteer in Oxfam Orpington Shop
    She is Freddy,
    Thank you Freddy for supporting me, all volunteers and Oxfam.
    God bless your soul. God see the heart and you used to help all.
    We never forget you.
    Marian Georgy


  10. From Surrey Border Movie Makers:

    Please accept our deepest regrets with respect to Freddy’s passing. She was a much respected person within the amateur film making community and will be sadly missed.

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