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Remembering Helena.

They say that life isn’t fair, that is a thing you get to know at an early age and yet sometimes it is a lesson you have to re-learn when life’s unfairness takes your breath away. You might equally say death isn’t fair and this also is true. When it takes someone away from their family and friends and leaves behind only tears and memories you are left struggling to come to terms with it. At least that is what I am feeling today. Yesterday one of my closest friends, Helena Wenberg, died suddenly at the age of just fifty-two.

I first met Helena in 2009. I use the term loosely as we mostly communicated online and although we did eventually get to meet and spend time together that came later. The first thing you noticed about her was her amazing voice. She had a lovely Swedish accent witch was, at that time, faintly tinged with American. She was heavily into the Wheel of Time series of books so she would use expressions like “What in the name of the light is that?” Which would make you smile. The first time I spoke to her there was none of that awkwardness and feeling the way which comes with a first conversation. It was as if we had always known each other.

After that first meeting our friendship grew steadily and for the next two years we were about as close as two people can be. We were able to be there for each other through some extremely tough times and for her unstinting help I shall always be grateful. In the spring of 2011 Helena came to Wales for an amazing two weeks and believe me I am so glad I have that to remember now.

Helena was an amazing person. She was kind, gentle, funny, loving, she never gave up on anyone however much they may have hurt her, she forgave and forgave again. I remember her swearing in Swedish when she got annoyed, her intense love of cats, her willingness to help anyone in any way she could even if it meant sitting up for half the night, her huge collections of fantasy books, plays, TV series, her endearing playfulness, the way she bore her many health problems without complaint or with a joke. We were very different in some ways and eerily alike in others which made things difficult between us more than once. Like all friendships we had our ups and downs and I only thank God that during the last eight months things got back to normal and we were as close as before.

During the time I knew Helena she went from someone who was deeply unhappy and insecure with no self-confidence to someone who was well in control of her life and always ready to try new things. In her last few months she mastered her new iPhone and grew to love it, a thing she thought she could never do. She became adept at shopping online, something which, like me, she used to be scared of. She still had her sad times but she had inner strength which helped her to deal with them. Since learning of her passing I have also learned how many people really liked her. This would have astounded her, she always said she was nothing special, just a boring old cat, those were her words. Far from it! I haven’t met anyone who had a bad word to say for her. She had a loving, close family and my thoughts and prayers are with them at what must be a very traumatic and difficult time for them. She had a huge number of online friends and our community will sorely miss her bright presence. As I told someone yesterday, she blessed everyone whose life she touched and we were lucky to know her.

It has been said that you can always learn something from a hard knock. Sorry, I know I seem to be spouting clichés but they also happen to be true. I have been sitting here, remembering my friend and trying to think what I can possibly learn from this awful thing.

What I am thinking has been said before but it is brought home to me now with even greater clarity. Life is so transient, so fragile. I was talking to Helena on Twitter one day, the next she was gone forever with no time to say goodbye. I hope, with God’s help, I can live each day to the full even if I’m not feeling my best. I really hope I can help anyone if I am asked, hurt no one, appreciate even more the people who love me and the friends I am lucky to have. Most of all I will always try to be thankful for every day I am given on this earth, for all the good things and blessings I have, and I thank God for being given the gift of a friend like Helena.

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