Tribute to long-serving hospital friend

Helen Samain from Halesworth, who was a devoted supporter of the League of Friends of Patrick Stead

Helen Samain from Halesworth, who was a devoted supporter of the League of Friends of Patrick Stead - Credit: Archant

A well-known Halesworth woman who spent 20 years as a member of the League of Friends of Patrick Stead Hospital has died aged 95 following a long illness.

Helen Samain had lived in the town with her husband Bryan since 1993 and the pair had been married for 68 years.

He said: “She was a wonderful wife and mother, and she was a great inspiration to our sons, Paul and Peter, in every way.

“She had a great sense of humour and a lovely smile.

“Her mother, a Norfolk woman, brought her up never to be idle, and whenever she wasn’t running the house she was making woollen toys for charity.”

She was born in Wimbledon and was working as a secretary for a firm of architects in London in 1939 when war broke out.

The company shut down straight away, and Mrs Samain walked to Trafalgar Square to volunteer for service at the recruiting centre for the Women’s Royal Naval Service - the Wrens.

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She served for seven years, holding several non-commissioned ranks and eventually becoming a commissioned Second Officer, undertaking a number of highly-secret jobs.

For much of the war, she served on Lord Mountbatten’s staff at Combined Operations headquarters in Whitehall.

She also worked for a while on Hayling Island, acting as a supplies officer for a special unit of highly-trained divers and swimmers who secretly observed German-held beaches across the Channel before British attack landings, notably the D-Day landings in Normandy.

She was also secretary to Major-General Robert Sturges, the general commanding all British commando forces.

During this time, she was based at Petworth House in Sussex, which was the operational HQ for commando units.

And little did she realise her future husband was camped in a tent in Petworth Park with his fellow commando troops while she was working there.

The pair would not meet until after the war, with Mrs Samain’s final wartime posting taking her to Malta as administrative assistant to the naval commander of a motor torpedo boat flotilla engaged in operations in the Mediterranean.

Once married, she travelled around the country, and around the world with her husband, who worked in public relations, before moving to Halesworth in the 1990s.

She contributed to a number of community activities in the town, notably the League of Friends of Patrick Stead Hospital, where she was a member for over 20 years, and at one time served as the League’s secretary.

She was also an active member of the Halesworth Ladies’ Craft group and Halesworth Ladies’ Flower club.

Mrs Samain died on March 24 and leaves behind her husband Bryan, two children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The funeral will be held on Monday, April 11, at 2.30pm at St Mary’s Church in Halesworth.

Family flowers only are requested, but donations may be sent to The Camphill Village Trust, c/o Rosedale Funeral Home, 19 Market Place, Halesworth, IP19 8BB.