Heartfelt tributes paid to @stgileshospice Head of #Fundraising who has died on an expedition

Staff, volunteers and supporters of St Giles Hospice have united to pay heartfelt tribute to there dedicated Head of Fundraising, Helen Relihan, who has died after falling ill during a fundraising expedition in Vietnam.

Helen was taking part in the Vietnam Trek, a hiking trip held to raise money for St Giles, when she was taken ill on Monday 19th October. Unfortunately, medics were unable to save her life and sadly she died in the early hours of Tuesday 3rd November.

Helen, who was 51 years old and lived in Coleshill, had been Head of Fundraising at St Giles for nearly eight years.

Helen was instrumental in the development of many new fundraising initiatives for the hospice, including walks, cycle challenges, fun runs, treks and in particular our world record breaking Solstice Walk, Buy a Bed campaign and the Sponsor a Nurse initiatives. Under Helen’s leadership the team have generated over £10 million, enabling the care of thousands of patients and their families locally.

St Giles Hospice Chief Executive Emma Hodges has led the tributes to a talented, committed and successful member of the senior team, who will be greatly missed by the whole hospice community.

“Everybody at St Giles is profoundly shocked and saddened at the news of the tragic death of a highly regarded, greatly respected and tremendously dedicated colleague,” she said.

“In her years as Head of Fundraising for our charity, Helen played an essential role in enabling St Giles to grow to meet the needs of the community we serve, and she provided a vital link between the hospice and our supporters throughout the local area.

“Her total commitment to furthering the cause of St Giles Hospice was typified by her determination to join the Vietnam Trek as a fundraiser. The fact that she has lost her life while participating in a charitable event that she was looking forward to so much is utterly heartbreaking.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Helen’s partner and her family and we will be doing whatever we possibly can to support them during this incredibly difficult time.”

The Vietnam Trek was organised and operated by a specialist charity trekking business, and Helen was taken ill on the third day of a four-day hiking expedition.

A second member of the party was also taken to hospital after falling ill, but has since returned home after recovering in hospital. All other members of the Vietnam Trek expedition returned to the UK as planned and are being offered counselling and support by St Giles Hospice.

Helen’s brother, John Relihan, speaking on behalf of her loved ones, said:

“Helen’s family, partner and friends are devastated by the sudden loss of a special, wonderful, vibrant, amazing, loving and dedicated woman who did so much for others and touched the hearts of all who knew her. Helen will be greatly missed. Such a bright light has left our lives.”

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