“It is with sadness that I have to pass on the news that Helen Taylor Thompson OBE, our former President and Chairperson, passed away early this morning.
Helen led a life of service and dedication. She achieved so much, often in the face of impossible odds.
There will be much said over the coming days and weeks regarding her accomplishments but I will simply say that as Mildmay had a place in her heart, she will for ever have a place in the heart of Mildmay.”
Geoff Coleman, Chief Executive Officer
Helen Margaret Taylor-Thompson OBE (born 7 August 1924, died 6 September 2020) co-founded Mildmay, Europe’s first AIDS hospice. She was chosen as one of the BBC’s 100 Women celebrated in 2018.
Helen signed the Official Secrets Act aged 19 and was part of what was known then as Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “secret army”. She sent coded messages to spies in occupied France during World War II. “One mistake and someone’s life could have been in danger,” she says.
Helen was elected to the board of the Mildmay Mission Hospital in 1952 and afterwards sat on a number of Government NHS committees. She later fought the closure of the Mildmay Hospital and became its chair when it reopened as the first hospice in Europe for people living with AIDS in 1988. In 1995 Helen, alongside with Community Action Network co-founders Adele Blakebrough and Lord Andrew Mawson, organised the Great Banquet – which saw 33,000 people in London sit down with people from every background to a meal. This event saw the beginnings of CAN, ta network of social entrepreneurs who shared a commitment to tackle social problems through business.In 1990, Helen was awarded the MBE and in 2005 the OBE. In 2019 she was awarded MD (Hon) OBE from the University of Buckingham for her Charitable work, particularly in the field of medicine.
Helen Taylor Thompson continued her charitable work until the present day. We at Mildmay are all deeply saddened by her passing and send her family our most heartfelt, deepest condolences.
Helen Taylor Thompson (third from right) outside Mildmay in the 1980s, and in 2018, with Lord Fowler presenting Helen with Mildmay’s Lifetime Achievement Award
With Princess Diana, on one of her many visits to Mildmay (left). With Pope John Paul II (right)
More about Helen, in her own words, in this Financial Times feature.