Helen Mary Winnifrith
23rd November 1947 - 14th July 2016
It is great sadness that Helen passed away, she was a person with so many roles – wife, mother, grandmother, cousin, aunt, super-granny H, Playchurch Helen, sister, preacher, lay-reader, baptism visitor, student, teacher, eco-warrior and re-cycler – and friend. She was busy being a home-maker, sewer and knitter, reader, swimmer, walker, traveller – and worshipper. We all have our memories of being, listening and doing with Helen. But what made time spent with Helen both fun and special – and what makes our future with memories of Helen so valued – was the unique thoughtfulness and spirit that guided her actions and roles. Her attitudes were refreshing, simple and, at every moment, guided by her faith in God.
An example was her approach to Christmas, an all-inclusive celebration kept simple. Often instead of shop, shop, shop, she would sew, sew, sew or knit, knit, knit. Family and friends were wrapped round with her joy at Christ’s birth and the results of her creativity. At other times, we were entertained by her accounts of holidays she and Tom took, especially across the Balkans using local buses, when Helen likened understanding the bus time-tables to doing a crossword – an intellectual challenge she enjoyed. She and Tom relished the simplicity of travelling by local bus, though she did admit that she was not always sure of getting the bus back!
Helen and I shared our belief in dressing simply from the charity shops, but even there, Helen’s mind was on others. She came back one day with a lovely silk dress and gave it
to me, saying she thought it was my style. I never told her how right she was. I had just taken it to the charity shop, fearing it no longer fitted me!
Some years ago, St. Edmund’s was a regular stop for ‘a man of the road’. He challenged me and others to follow Christ’s teaching that He reaches out to all and all are part of His creation. For Helen, actions spoke of belief and the action was very straightforward. She and Tom offered space in their home to this man, this man of the road, this tramp, this child of God.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Helen’s thoughtfulness, simplicity and spiritual strength is to end with her words on death and dying – words that are a gift from Helen that will be with many of us through our lives and deaths:
“I have naturally thought a lot about death and dying and have come to realise how life-enhancing such thinking can be. . . I want to declare that prayer makes it possible, through the boundless love and grace of God, to live life well in the light of death. . . Thank you all so much for your love, support and specially your prayers along this journey.” Thank you, Helen.
Written by Lisa Blunt
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