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Sad farewells to Helen, brave until the very end
HUNDREDS of people gathered to celebrate the life of an inspirational county fundraiser and Olympic torchbearer.
Family and friends of Helen Cleaver paid their last respects to the 52-year-old during an emotional service at St Cassian’s Church, Chaddesley Corbett, near Kidderminster, yesterday.
Her coffin was brought into the church to John Williams’ s The Olympic Spirit and adorned with mementos, including her Olympic torch and uniform.
Mrs Cleaver’s brother, William Workman, shared memories from her early life, being raised on her grandparents’ farm in Chaddesley Corbett and becoming an accomplished horsewoman, describing her as an inspiration to him and others.
He said: “Helen’s life was cut far too short, but during her time on earth she touched so many people. We will never forget how wonderful a person she was.”
Fellow Olympic torchbearer, Nigel Leigh, of Worcester Dragon Boat Racing Club, said Mrs Cleaver, of Little Witley, near Worcester, was an asset to Worcester Busters and Worcester Dragons, and he was proud to call her his friend.
He said her passion and drive had enabled the club to develop, and she had refused to let cancer hold her back, representing Great Britain twice in European dragon boat championships and leading the Busters in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Regatta.
Mr Leigh said: “She was a lovely and genuine lady. She was one of the most positive of individuals, who will be remembered for her matter-of-fact attitude to life and her illness.”
The congregation then erupted into applause and cheers on his invitation in tribute of Mrs Cleaver’s “boundless enthusiasm and absolute determination”.
Her husband Martin, in a tribute read by his brother Robert, said he and his wife shared a love of the great outdoors.
But the walk he would always remember was the 32- mile charity fund-raiser she organised in aid of The Haven and the Worcestershire Breast Unit Campaign, raising £4,000.
Mr Cleaver said: “She had all of that wonderful fighting spirit and was so courageous. Helen loved Worcestershire, and the people of Worcestershire and beyond loved her.
“She has left this earth but the spirit of Helen will be with us for evermore. Helen, one day we will be together again. Until then, may you sleep with the angels.”
Mrs Cleaver’s coffin left the church to Time to Say Goodbye sung by Katherine Jenkins – a favourite artist of the couple – and members of the Worcester Dragons and Worcester Busters formed a guard of honour.