What's going on

Home Honouring the life of Dr Helen Foley MBE

Honouring the life of Dr Helen Foley MBE

It is with great sadness we share that Dr Helen Foley MBE, the co-founder of Challengers, has passed away aged 83.

Today we mourn the loss of a dear member of the Challengers family, but we celebrate Helen’s incredible life and her wonderful compassion and generosity which still shines through the charity to this day.

It all started in 1976, when paediatrician Helen and Colin Hassell started a swimming club for disabled children at the local leisure centre. Their aim was to create an environment where disabled children could have fun, gain confidence, and make new friends, while their parents could enjoy a short break from care responsibilities. Helen and Colin shared the same dream to provide unrestricted opportunities to enjoy not only swimming and recreation but the chance to play.

Following the success of their swimming club, Helen and Colin officially formed Challengers in 1979 (then named the Guildford Adventurers’ Association) and expanded the range of activities they offered. As it grew in popularity, they moved the club to Stoke Park in Guildford, where the Challengers Head Office is still based today.

In 2015, we were thrilled to see that Helen’s extraordinary work had been publicly recognised, as she received an MBE for her services to disabled children and their families.

Helen has left behind an incredible legacy, and even though the charity has grown much larger over the years, our play and youth schemes still run on the same ethos that Helen and Colin first established over 40 years ago. Without Helen, Challengers simply would not be the lifeline for thousands of families that it is today.

Helen Foley devoted her life making sure all children reach their full potential through the magical experience that is derived from play and fun. We all have lost a truly magnificent person in Helen but her legacy will live on forever. This is a true testament of the outstanding contribution Helen has made.

We will be honouring Helen’s memory by installing a memorial bench in her name on Stoke Park, so that community she made such a difference to will always be able to remember her.

“Helen Foley was an inspiring woman who was driven and determined to improve the lives of disabled children. She was incredibly thoughtful and kind. I remember when I had not been working at Challengers very long, I was in the hospital for a few weeks, Helen took the trouble to write a get-well note to me. Every one of the words in the letter was a different colour, the thought and effort really cheered me up. It was an example of how she went out of her way for people. Challengers wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Helen and so we are all so grateful for the wonderful things she has done.” – Paul Wilson, Head of Services at Challengers

Helen’s family have kindly asked donations in memory of Helen to be made to Challengers. Click here to donate, thank you.

Friday 12th February 2020