It is with sadness that we report the death of our Honorary President, Helen Yool, in Lyme last month.
Helen joined the Committee of the Lyme Regis Society in 1982 and immediately became the editor of its quarterly newsletter, a role she retained for many years.
The 1980s in Lyme was a period of proposed development some of which was quite controversial and which Helen recorded in some detail in the newsletter:-
Lyme needed a sewage treatment plant and discussions had rumbled on since the 1960s. In the 1980s, the proposed site was on the seashore at Gun Cliff below the Marine Theatre and the scheme would also enhance the sea defences. The scheme would need to encompass the town’s ancient sea walls and was opposed by English Heritage for that reason. However, the Society was in favour and with its support the plans were agreed in 1987.
The Society also successfully organised fund raising so that the cliffs at Ware could be purchased by the National Trust, thus preventing any future risk of development.
From 1988 to 1994 Helen was Chairman of the Society and her period in office was dominated by a problem created by the agreed sewage treatment plant at Gun Cliff. Before South West Water could begin the work, a way of protecting the scheme from the ravages of the sea must be devised. The proposed plan included a number of rock breakwaters forming “islands” in the bay; much as can be seen today at Sidmouth. The Society believed this would “change the character of Lyme Regis for all time” and a concerted and highly technical campaign was mounted to show that a much less invasive scheme was possible. Thankfully, the Society’s proposed scheme was in most part accepted and by the end of Helen’s chairmanship work had started on the complete scheme that today enhances the beauty of the town.
In 1994 Helen was elected as Honorary Vice President of the Society, a non-executive position. Apparently Helen did not understand that last phrase. She continued to edit the Society’s newsletter (as she had done throughout her chairmanship) until 1999 when after 17 years and at the age of 85 she “retired”. In 2002 she was elected to be Honorary President and remained such until her death on 22nd March 2013 just three months short of her 100th birthday.