About us

The Helen Foundation was launched in January 2006 as a living memorial to Helen Elizabeth Kirk, aged 24, who tragically died after a road accident on 26 December 2005

Helen was an actor and performed under the stage names of Helen Owen-Taylor and Helen Hezel. Throughout her life, she loved acting and was passionately committed to the power of the arts to make a real difference to young people’s lives. Her theatre-in-education (TIE) work in the UK and abroad showed her first hand how important it is to stimulate children’s imaginations and sensibilities and how arts activities of all kinds are uniquely able to do that.

Following her untimely death, her family and her boyfriend, Ben, decided to set up The Helen Foundation as a new charitable trust in order to support the aspirations of young people in the arts who live in Teignbridge (the part of Devon where Helen grew up and that she loved so much), especially those lacking financial support.

Helen benefited greatly from the dedication and encouragement of those teachers and coaches in the schools, colleges and drama groups she attended – Shaldon School, Teignmouth Community College, Exeter College, Shaldon Theatre Company, Tykes, The Teignmouth Players, the Dawlish-based Acting Up and the Devon Youth Theatre amongst others.

The Helen Foundation encourages and supports young people to develop their talents and to pursue their ambitions in the arts as Helen was able to. 

It provides:

  • subsidised arts-based workshops in schools led by professional artists

  • The Helen Foundation Award presented annually in schools to recognise the young person who, in each school’s own judgement, has shown “Best endeavour in the arts”

  • individual bursaries to young people with talents and ambitions in the arts but lacking the financial means to pursue them

  • support for community arts projects involving young people.

'an arts-based charity to support and motivate young people in all

branches of the arts in Teignbridge, South Devon…school awards, workshops, bursaries…just go for it and dare to dream!'

Images: By permission The Kirk Family