ONE of Mrs McFadden’s closest friends, former councillor Norah Beare, paid a moving tribute to the woman she descibed as “the driving force” of community events in Dromore - for which cause this “remarkable lady” was honoured with the MBE in 2010.
“If Helen were here now I know she would probably tell me off for saying this, but she was a truly remarkable lady and I don’t think Dromore realises what has now gone from the heart of the community here,” said Mrs Beare.
“Helen was totally selfless, gave joy to so many people and I can’t believe she has gone from us. There will never be another Helen McFadden - and that’s a certainty.”
Mrs Beare added that without Helen, a member of Dromore Doctors Surgery Equipment Fund Committee for 35 years, there would not be a Civic Week in Dromore as her enthusiasm always brought together a band of willing volunteers ready to help organise events.
“Helen’s voluntary work is important, but her fundraising efforts for charities are legendary,” said Mrs Beare. “She had, in recent months, raised money for charities including the Southern Area Hospice, Doghouse Animal Sanctuary in Banbridge, and supported a living facility for disabled people in Portadown.
“Helen’s efforts are continuous all year round. Not a week goes by that she is not involved in a charity or voluntary event of some kind. In fact, her business premises are in many ways used as a mini-community centre to host many meetings, with everyone offered tea, coffee and a snack on arrival.
“When Helen organises an event, it is designed with the whole community in mind. This is exactly the approach we need - not only in Dromore, but right across Northern Ireland.”
Councillor Paul Rankin and MLA Brenda Hale added their voices to the chorus of tributes, with Mr Rankin particularly highlighting Helen’s role in ‘Doing It For Dromore’.
“I think everyone who knew Helen will have been impacted by her tenacity in regards to her community and charity work,” said Mr Rankin. “She was always willing to lend a helping hand to local groups and was a renowned cross-community worker. Most recently, she was chairperson of the local community group, ‘Doing It For Dromore’ and her efforts were duly recognised when she was honoured by the Queen in 2010.”
Mrs Hale added, “It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mrs Helen McFadden MBE. Mrs McFadden was a pillar of the community and her passion and commitment to Dromore will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with her family circle and close friends in the difficult days ahead.”