The musician

Helena Timmins

Everyone knew Helena. 

For over seventy years, Helena Timmins was supported by the Royal School for the Blind, but she gave as much to the School as the School gave to her. 

She had very little sight, and joined the school in 1910, when she was just sixteen years old. Although the school in the early 20th Century was very institutionalised, they did realise that Helena was a talented musician, and she was recruited into the staff of the school. For over fifty years, she was paid as the organist and ‘Music Mistress’.  

The school, from its very Protestant origins in 1799, had a strong religious character until the late 20th Century, with a succession of Reverends running the school until the early 1990s. Helena’s music would have been a big part of the daily lives of the people at the school, especially when they came to chapel for Sunday worship. 

In the early 1980s, the school realised that the best way to train new staff was to recruit people they were supporting as trainers. Helena was in this first cohort of trainers responsible for the induction. It is a practice we continue to this day, with people we’re supporting involved in our mandatory training for all new team members.