A life-long explorer of social history and weaver of factual family tales Helen holds a Diploma in counselling. Fascinated by psychological theory and the stories we develop to make sense of ourselves and our family, my original quest was to understand my Victorian grandfather, Walter Parker, born in 1885 in Upwell on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border.
I believe family history doesn’t survive unless it’s in print, so I pondered how to share what I had learnt. Frustrated by the pitifully few trailblazers in this area, I set out to write an engaging and accessible biography that would not only explore working-class Victorian life in an English village, but could motivate and encourage other family historians struggling to pass on what they have painstakingly discovered.
During my research a transgenerational legacy of loss, trauma, anxiety and depression unravelled, one that revealed repeated patterns of behaviour that perhaps I too had unwittingly passed on to the next generation. It is only through revealing and exploring these patterns that we can become aware of them, move forward and pass on a healthier legacy to our children and grandchildren.
I was honoured by an invitation to talk about my grandfather at the Thorney Heritage 30th anniversary celebration in the Bedford Hall, Thorney, in 2017.
For this event, I presented a shorter piece about my grandfather, entitled A Boy in the Tank Yard, and was privileged to contribute Walter’s profile to the museum’s ‘Profile of Notable People’ touch screen, sound and vision display.
I think Walter would be perplexed to see that his childhood home now houses the Thorney Heritage Museum, but I like to believe he would be quietly pleased. Although A Victorian’s Inheritance began as a personal project, the resulting research is of relevance to anyone wishing to explore the psychological patterns in their own family tree, those with roots in an English village, anyone exploring Victorian life or those with a family connection to Thorney or Upwell.
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