Our Honorary Patrons
Lord Jay of Ewelme GCMG and Lady Jay (Sylvia) CBE
Michael Jay, after a career in the Diplomatic Service, was Ambassador in Paris from 1996 to 2001, and Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth from 2002 to 2006. After retiring from the Diplomatic Service he has served as a non-executive director of a number of British and French companies. He was nominated to the House of Lords in 2006 as Lord Jay of Ewelme, and sits as a member of the Crossbenches.
Lord Jay married Sylvia Mylroie in 1975. She has been Chairman of L‘Oreal UK and of Food from Britain, and continues to serve as a non-executive director of a US based company. Lady Jay was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 2019, and during her term of office worked to raise awareness of issues to do with prisons and the justice system, and of the work done by many charities helping to prevent criminal behaviour.
Diana, The Dowager Countess of Devon
Lady Devon is very active in charity work within Teignbridge, South Devon and continues to be engaged with life at Powderham Castle, where her son 19th Earl of Devon Charles Courtenay, and married to The Countess of Devon A J Langer, lives with their two children, Joscelyn and Jack.
Powderham is one of the most popular venues for large-scale outdoor musical events with internationally famous performers like Elton John appearing there. THF works closely with Powderham Castle in continuing to develop its outstanding programme of youth music called Powderham Live!
From the very beginning, when news of Helen’s death became known, Lady Devon showed great personal sympathy to the Kirk family, and when approached by THF with a request to become an Honorary Patron of the fledgling charity, Foundation Trustees were delighted when she accepted.
Baroness Benjamin, DBE, DL
We were delighted when in 2009, Dr Floella Benjamin OBE DL kindly agreed to join our distinguished list of Honorary Patrons. She was Helen’s favourite BBC presenter, someone Helen really aspired to be like, and it was wonderful when Floella responded so positively to the request to become an Honorary Patron of the Foundation.
Floella Benjamin was born in Trinidad in 1949 and came to England as a child in 1960. She left school at 16 with the aim of becoming Britain’s first ever black woman bank manager but changed direction and became an actress, presenter, writer, independent producer, Peer and an active advocate for the welfare, care and education of children throughout the world.
For over two decades she ran a successful award winning television production company. Her broadcasting work has been recognised with a Special Lifetime Achievement BAFTA and an OBE. She has written over 30 books including Skip Across the Ocean, My Two Grannies and Coming to England which is used as a resource in schools in social and cross curricular areas. It also was adapted into a film for the BBC and it won a Royal Television Society Award for her production company. A 20th anniversary edition of the book was published in 2016 and it was called a 'Guardian Children’s Book of the Year.' Her book The Arms of Britannia is the follow up to Coming to England.
On the 20th of October 2012, she was awarded the J.M Barrie Award given annually to a children’s arts practitioner or organisation whose work, in the view of ACA, will stand the test of time. In 2019 she was awarded the Women in Film & Television Lifetime Achievement Award.
She led a twenty-year campaign to create the role of Children’s Minister, which achieved its goal in 2003. In 2010 she was elevated to the House of Lords where she is an advocate for children’s wellbeing and has successfully spearheaded legislation for children’s media and the arts.
She was Chairman of the Women of the Year Lunch for five years, Chair of Governors for the Isle of Sheppey Academy, Chairman of BAFTA -Television and created the BAFTA Children’s Awards. She was a member of the OFCOM Content Board, a Governor of the National Film & Television School for 17 years was a Millennium Commissioner. She is a Vice-President of Barnardo’s amongst other key charitable work.
Floella completed 10 consecutive London Marathons and over the years has raised thousands of pounds for children’s charity Barnardo’s. She also actively supports SPARKS, NSPCC, Transplant Links and The Sickle Cell Society. She is the President of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She created Touching Success, an initiative which aims to mentor and help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to aspire.
On the 20th of October 2012, she was awarded the J.M Barrie Award, given annually to a children’s arts practitioner or organisation whose work, in the view of ACA, will stand the test of time. In 2019 she was awarded the Women in Film & Television Lifetime Achievement Award.
She received a Damehood in the 2020 New Year Honours List for services to charities.
She is married with two children and enjoys cooking, singing, photography and travelling.
Please check out her website for further details: floellabenjamin.com
Photo credit: JEFF FORNEY
The band members of MUSE, who were personal friends of Helen, were devastated when Helen died and willingly agreed to become Honorary Patrons of The Helen Foundation on its creation.
The band first formed at Teignmouth Community College and received a vital boost in sponsorship provided by the Prince’s Trust, which granted the band new musical equipment at the start of their career. The band is whole-heartedly behind The Helen Foundation and recognises the importance of early support for talented young people.
A spokesman for MUSE Management, at the time they agreed to become Patrons said, “The band are delighted and honoured to be Honorary Patrons of The Helen Foundation. MUSE are very proud of their Teignbridge roots, and recognise that the area has much artistic talent to be uncovered and nurtured.”
The members of MUSE are:
Born 9 June 1978 in Cambridge, Matt is the lead singer and guitarist. He is also an extremely talented pianist. Matt moved to Teignmouth when he was 7 years old and later attended Teignmouth Community College and Exeter College before the band were signed. He now lives mainly out of LA, California with his wife Elle.
Born 2 December 1978 in Rotherham, Chris is the well-known bass player. He sings solo with the band as well as providing backing vocals on albums. Chris moved to Teignmouth when he was 8 years old and later attended Teignmouth Community College before the band were signed. He currently lives in Surrey with his wife, Caris.
Born 12 July 1977 in Stockport, Dom is the popular and gifted drummer and percussionist. Dom also moved to Teignmouth when he was 8 years old and later attended Teignmouth Community College and Exeter College before the band were signed. When not on the road touring, he tends to divide his time between California and the UK.
The official MUSE website is at: muse.mu