Tribute to Helen Denniston

Well Placed Consultancy, owners of Black History Month and International Womens Month website is saddened to announce the passing of Helen, who left her family and friends on the morning of the 10th June 2005 after a short and cruel illness.

The Funeral Service and Celebration of the life of Helen Denniston was held at 1pm on Friday 24 June 2005.

If you wish to make a donation please send to: Trinity Hospice, 30 Clapham Common North Side, London SW4 ORN - Charity reg: 1013945 - they took great care of Helen

Helen DennistonHelen Denniston was the Director of HDA, an international arts management and production consultancy, founded in 2001, to meet a growing demand for project consultancy bridging together the arts, and social inclusion.

With an early training in classical music, her career has included professional singing and teaching but Helen's interests and skills in business development and strategic arts management, led her to embark in a professional role managing and programming community based centres in Bradford, Huddersfield and London. Helen managed one of the first inner city partnership capital projects in Brixton. Between 1980 and 1985, she served as Vice Chair of the London Arts Combined Arts Committee, and was elected to the GLC Black and Ethnic Arts Sub committee.

As a producer, Helen pioneered internationally diverse Festivals including the Colour of Europe, at the South Bank Centre. In 1995, she went on to manage the high profile event Africa95, a 6 month season of African and Diaspora arts across the UK, whose patrons were Nelson Mandela and Her Majesty the Queen. The Festival inspired African Odyssey at the John F Kennedy Centre in Washington, for which she consulted on artistic and online education programmes for its 4 year duration.

courtesy of
SuAndi OBE
Cultural Director, Freelance/ Live Artist/Poet
Black Arts Alliance
PO Box 86
Manchester M21 7BA

For Helen....... The link in the chain………. and the continuum

from Mia Morris

There is a saying that when you leave this world, you leave behind a name. Helen has left not only her name but a body of work with her indelible print.

Standing here today you can imagine her here with us, not up front but very much behind the scenes. It is the things that we take for granted now when we attend art events. That somehow, we will be included and that they have thought through prices around families and concessionary discount, that there are transport links to the event and that the publicity was correct with all the relevant information included. These are the sort of things that she would always factor in…A seamless seam of support that makes such a difference.

We met in the early 80s when I landed the temporary job as press and publicity officer for the Brixton festival and carnival one year after the riots. Try promoting and getting press for events under this type of situation.

With Helen I found my courage to develop myself - I have fond memories of this era, for example , Helen laughing when I told about our success in getting a banner placed outside of Lambeth Town hall, to publicise the event despite the fact that there was a young man up at the tower threatening to jump.

Not a lot people know this but between us we made copies of the keys for the Brixton Arts Collective to move temporarily to our office as there building was have major repairs and they had a show to put on.

This is the type of thing that you find yourself doing- you really feel that you can soar with reason and fly….

She has now moved on but we will always remember her dazzling smile. The way she came into a room, in my case she was so tall that I learnt to lip read. Helen was a tall tree so elegant that blew gently in the wind.

All of us are here and have possibly enjoyed afternoon teas, pictures .. and concerts.. a lot of you also respect her wise wisdom in developing policies and strategies, programming and contributing to the debate around arts and inclusion. She was forever the consummate professional and well sought after.

Then there were surprise activities that we did.. I took her, with the assistance of her family, to see Tina Turner at Wembley. Helen was spellbound and sung along throughout the evening. We also went to see Stevie Wonder and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, where she stood all evening in awe.

Culture, together with her family, were her bedrock, and if there was a soundtrack to her life, it would be something special from Ella Fitzgerald.. as she certainly enjoyed her voice… .

In a recent copy of Oprah magazine there was an article on friends

It said that you had friends who could be an uplifter, a travel buddy, a truth teller, the unlikely friend, the girl who just wanted to have fun…… you may recognise Helen in some of these headings…….which is possibly why you are all here…

For Helen. Long may she remain in all of her hearts

This is an extract from a prayer from GF Newman, symbolizes what Helen was about:

"I have a mission...
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. God has not created me for naught..

Helen was a link in a global chain, through her, long term friendships were formed, and long lasting professional relationships developed — Donna Pieters.


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