DUP’s Pam Cameron: I’ve caused incredible hurt to my family leaving my husband and home
Exclusive: DUP’s Pam Cameron talks for first time about leaving her husband and home for a man she met just four days previously
MLA Pam Cameron has spoken for the first time about the “incredible hurt” she caused her family after abruptly ending her first marriage.
The DUP representative for South Antrim stunned her loved ones when she broke up with husband Ian Lewis — just four days after her first face-to-face meeting with the man she would later marry. She refuted suggestions that she’d had an affair prior to telling Ian it was all over on a day she described as the worst of her life.
In an emotional and revealing interview in today's Belfast Telegraph, the mother-of-three spoke of how she fell so instantly - and so completely - for former senior civil servant Michael Cameron that she had his name tattooed onto her wrist within days of that initial meeting at a Stormont function she'd attended with Ian, her husband of 20 years.
She also admitted that her two oldest children completely shunned her for 18 months after the no-warning announcement that she'd be moving on to a new life with Michael, whom she married in December 2013.
And she refuted suggestions that she'd had an extramarital affair prior to suddenly telling a devastated Ian it was all over - on a day she described as the worst of her life.
"My world turned upside down on June 9, 2011, when I met Michael," she said.
"That led to a very traumatic period of my life - the worst and the best days."
The 46-year-old Antrim native added: "In hindsight, I'd got married to Ian too young. I was 19, had my first baby at 20, the second at 21 and the third at 24.
"My first marriage was my children; that's what my whole life consisted of. Leaving was never a consideration because of my Christian upbringing, but then Michael came along.
"He's the reason I got the courage to leave."
The politician's first contact with her future second husband was over the phone, when, as Antrim mayor, she'd asked for help recruiting a member of the royal family for an official function.
They then had further communication via Facebook but it was the proverbial "love at first sight" when they eventually met in person.
"There was no affair," she said.
"We met - and, four days later, wham! I changed my life for the better. I've absolutely no regrets at all, never a moment's doubt."
Mrs Cameron is, however, deeply remorseful about the effect her life-changing decision -which came a mere month after she'd been elected to the Assembly following several years as a councillor - had on both Ian and their children William (now 25), Daniel (24) and Hannah (21).
"It was really difficult; I'd caused incredible hurt to all of my family, not least Ian, who didn't deserve to be hurt in that way," she said.
"My kids initially - the two boys - thought that Hannah should come with me and that's what happened but then, fairly quickly, they became very angry. They wouldn't see me or speak to me for 18 months.
"It was a year and a half of absolute hell... but eventually we started to talk again and patch things up."