It is with great sadness that we share the news that Helen Horne, former Chair of Healthwatch Cumbria, has passed away. After fighting advanced lung cancer since February, Helen is now at peace after passing at home with family around her.

The wife of the late Roger Horne, an influential local educator and local politician. Mother of Andrew and Tim Horne. Former elected member of Cumbria County Council. A long-standing resident of Fenton, Brampton. Helen was a well-known pillar of the Cumbrian community, and a source of inspiration and phenomenal support for the team at Healthwatch Cumbria. She played an integral role in ensuring that the team were energised and nurtured as they enacted her vision to listen and share the experiences of local people.

A full and dedicated life 

Professionally, and personally Helen was a source of energy and compassion who used her time and immense dedication to improve the lives of others. As a teacher of English at Trinity School in Carlisle, Helen shaped the futures of thousands of young people.

For some retirement means relaxation, but not for Helen. Helen’s later years were completely devoted to public service. As a Non-executive director on Eden Valley Primary Care Trust, she worked tirelessly to ensure that patients were regarded as people and advocated to ensure that support was available to anyone whenever they needed it.

Committed to public service

Helen’s thirst to help others, led her to become an Elected Member of Cumbria County Council where she was described as a ‘formidable champion for young people, who had the wisdom to use her knowledge to best affect and support young Cumbrians’. In this role, as throughout her life, Helen had a particular interest and focus on further education, highlighting the vital role learning plays in securing opportunities for young people. Helen’s skills of collaboration were in full force in this role, as she brought colleagues together through a shared vision to ensure that further education in our county maintained the interests of our communities.

A Board Member of Cumbria Council for Voluntary Services. A volunteer with Age UK. President of Soroptimist International Carlisle. A Governor of Richard Rose Morton School. A Governor of Carlisle College. Helen used every minute and every ounce of her great capacity for social change to make things better for our county.

Working with Healthwatch

Most recently, Helen was the Chair for Healthwatch Cumbria, created in 2012. She supported and encouraged the Healthwatch team to listen to the views of thousands of people in their bid to help improve services. Helen’s passion for fairness and for health and social care equity was also extended to Healthwatch England, where Helen represented the views of the North West as a Committee Member. In this role, Helen brought the experiences of our region to an influential forum, ensuring that our views were part of national conversations. For that, and for so much more the Healthwatch Cumbria team will be forever grateful.

David Blacklock, the CEO of Healthwatch Cumbria and People First commented:

‘Helen was a passionate force for good, she dedicated her whole life to helping others, to tackling disadvantage and to supporting people to live better lives. Helen believed in fairness, equality and human rights. On a personal note, Helen and I became very good friends over the years, often enjoying a good glass of wine and a laugh together.’

Helen leaves us with a legacy of public service and advocacy. She has supported individuals, and organisations across our county to strive for fairness and excellence. She leaves memories of compassion and a family shaped by love and kindness.

Thank you, Helen, for your service.