Tributes to York poet Helen Cadbury

Helen Cadbury
Helen Cadbury

York poet and long-time Poetry Society Member Helen Cadbury has died following a battle with cancer.

There will be a Memorial Meeting in Helen’s memory at Friargate Quaker Meeting House, York, YO1 9RL at 2pm on Saturday 15 July, followed immediately by a celebratory tea and light refreshments at the de Grey Rooms, St Leonards Place, YO1 7HD. In due course there will be a memorial meeting in London. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for this, please email

Donations in Helen’s memory are to Accessible Arts and Media,York that Helen was the Chair of for a number of years. For more details,please email Josh on or Ruth on

Carole Bromley, The Poetry Society’s York Stanza rep, said

“Helen Cadbury, novelist and poet, sadly died of cancer on Friday 30th June with her family around her. Helen was very active on the arts scene in York, putting on plays, writing two very successful crime novels (and another to be published in September), as well as quietly writing the most beautiful, moving, feisty, tender poems – Helen’s poems will be published by Valley Press on November 1st.

Helen was a very dear friend. I had known her for fifteen years since she joined my creative writing class at York University and she will be hugely missed by me, her many friends in York, and beyond, and by the whole by the whole writing community, but most of all, of course, by Josh, Isaac and Reuben and her whole family.”

Helen, whose debut crime novel To Catch A Rabbit was published in 2013, lived in Heworth and taught creative writing at a women’s prison for more than five years. She was born in the Midlands and grew up in Saddleworth, near Oldham. She also worked as an actor, a drama teacher, and was a playwright.

Jamie McGarry, Helen’s publisher at Valley Press, paid tribute to her in a statement released online on Friday night, and said Helen’s death had come “as an enormous shock”. It read: “Helen Cadbury, an inspiring, remarkable woman and a magnificently talented novelist and poet, passed away this afternoon, surrounded by her family. Helen was constantly filled with life and ideas, and was speaking only yesterday about launch plans for her forthcoming books. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. The outpouring of love on social media shows how deeply she’ll be missed.”

In 2016, Helen spoke to the The Yorkshire Post:  “[In 2015] I turned 50, published two books, sold my TV rights and had breast cancer. So you could say it was a really big year. Everybody’s experience of cancer treatment is different and it’s definitely much easier to stay positive if you’re not being sick. And I’m very fortunate in that I haven’t had a lot of sickness.”

Helen’s sister Ruth Cadbury is MP for Brentford and Isleworth, and last night tweeted: “My lovely talented sister Helen Cadbury passed away today. I’m glad to have been with her & family at the end.”

Killer Women – a group of London-based crime writers – called Helen “a bright and brilliant part of the crime fiction family”, while Paul Hirons called her “a wonderfully talented, warm and fiercely smart woman”.

Writer Clare Mackintosh, whose works have appeared on the Sunday Times Bestseller List, said: “The lovely, talented, funny @helencadbury died today. I am reading her poetry and buying her crime novels, and thinking of her family.

“I was floored by this news. I can’t believe it. Such a wonderful, funny, warm, intelligent lady. And what a writer!”

Recently Helen wrote “My first published work was poetry. I still read poetry regularly and this year I was determined to write some more and submit it for publication. I was delighted this week to see that a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, has been published on the Writers For Calais website.”

My boy is eighteen today

He didn’t die in the shallow waters of a Turkish beach.
He wasn’t carried high on his father’s shoulders
at the storming of the Macedonian border.
He won’t sleep tonight in the subway beneath
Keleti station, nor will he run between cars
on the Calais motorway, or climb on the roof of a train.

Your boy will not see another birthday,
his suffering is over, his joy is over, his smile
is over. The bear he holds in the photo is over.
It keeps happening, over and over, on my screen
and in the water, on the road, the rail track,
while my boy wakes, and turns eighteen today.

What can I say?

Read more

3 July 2017