Sadly at the age of 62 former Queen Helen Ward Birkby (Donaldson 1958) passed away on the 21st February, 2009 at St John’s Hospital leaving behind a lifetime of love and devotion to the Bo’ness Fair.
Helen will be fondly remembered for her work with the Fair after her return back to Bo’ness after living in Leeds, Rothesay and Strathpeffer.
She was an organiser and was always ready for her school, St Mary’s which she attended as a child and then worked before taking early retirement
Many of the presentees and Retinue whom she worked with will have had that little piece of extra Fair Magic that she would bring each year at the school.
Helen was probably the most decorated family character whoever took part in the Bo’ness Fair, although being chosen three times her family roll makes up for many more. She was a Fairy in 1953, a Flower Girl in 1957 before being crowned Queen in 1958 from St Mary’s School. History was to be unveiled only years later when her sister, Margaret followed her to the honour of being crowned Queen in 1963.
In 1982 she watched the start of a new family beginning as she witnessed her niece Paula Young (Margaret’s Daughter) becoming Chief Lady in Waiting to Lesley Anne Culbert.
The following year Helen’s eldest daughter Annaliese became Queen of the Fairies in 1983.
1988 was probably at the time, the highlight of her Fair life as she was asked to crown Queen Dawn Tooey by chairman David Brown, a friendship with Dawn that has been strong between them ever since.
Ten years later in 1998, her younger daughter Hannah was chosen to be Queen and follow her mother and aunt to be crowned as Bo’ness Children’s Fair Queen.
Last year (2008) she made her final appearance in the Fair when she proudly took her place (top picture) with all the former Queen’s to mark the 100th Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival. 50 years after being crowned.
Only two weeks before Helen’s passing, her grand-daughter was chosen to be a fairy and being Helen, she had already designed her outfit for her big day.
Come Sun, Come Rain, Come Sleet or Snow, you can always guarantee that when the town hall clock strikes Eleven every Fair Day Helen will be watching down fluttering her magic.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived