Helena Farrell's family issue heartfelt thank you to community for support following teen's death

Helena's family have said thank you to everyone who has supported them since her death last Friday

Helena Farrell showed promise as a swimmer from an early age, pictured here as under 10s chamption with Kendal Swimming Club

Enda and Maria Farrell paid tribute to their 'loved and cherished' daughter

Helena doing what everyone remembers her for - smiling

At play in the garden

Helena pursuing her passion for music

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by

THE grieving parents of Helena Farrell, whose body was found in Kendal woodland, have issued a heartfelt thank you to the community for its support.

Maria and Enda Farrell said they were 'overwhelmed' by offers of help in their hour of need following the 15-year-old's death.

Mr Farrell paid particular tribute to Kendal’s youngsters.

"I am very grateful to Helena’s friends for their beautiful wishes of love to us and her," he said.

"The young people in Kendal are absolutely fantastic and if it weren’t for all the tributes I have been reading, I don’t think I would have coped as well. Though I don’t feel like I am coping at all."

He said the couple have been humbled by the support, which has included people turning up at their house with food.

"We will always be very grateful to them and to everybody in Kendal for their kind thoughts and condolences," he said.

Helena, a pupil at Kirkbie Kendal School, was found dead around 10pm on Friday in woodland behind the Castle Green Hotel on Sedbergh Road.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Her family described her as a 'loved and cherished' daughter who excelled in the arts and sport, particularly hockey and swimming.

Head coach at Kendal Swimming Club James Mackereth said: "She approached her swimming with a smile on her face, a determination to succeed, and a willingness to do herself, her family, and her teammates proud, which is all you can ask for as a coach."

Hundreds of tributes poured in for her online and dozens of bunches of flowers, teddies and mementos were placed outside the hotel.

Candles and tealights in the shape of the letter 'H' and a love heart have burned at night.

A tribute video featuring photographs of the smiling teen made by friends and uploaded to YouTube has attracted more than 58,000 views and a special Facebook page set up in her memory has been joined by nearly 3,000 users.

Support staff were brought into Kirkbie Kendal School this week for pupils and staff, while a special assembly was held for Year 11 and 12 students and the dance studio set aside as a space for reflection.

Headteacher Phil Hyman said "We have also started a condolence book for students and staff to write in and record their positive memories of Helena.

"We have asked students to access support either individually or in small groups at break times, but that if they don't feel that they are coping during lessons, they can go to the dance studio.

"Helena was a much loved member of the School and this tragedy will leave a tremendous hole in our community."

Born in Galway, Helena moved with her family to Kendal in 2001, and was a talented musician.

She was celebrated by the Gazette in June after gaining a distinction in her grade seven cello and a merit in her grade six singing exams on the same day.

Musical Director at the Westmorland Youth Orchestra, Roland Fudge said: "She recently made an outstanding contribution as one of the soloists in the string master-classes given to the WYO by the world-famous musician Peter Cropper, after which he commented on the quality of her musicianship."

Professor at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music, Emma Ferrand added: "Her musicianship had a maturity beyond her years and her feeling for playing the cello was a rare gift."

Mr Farrell said: "Whatever she put her mind to she just went to the extreme to be at the top. But it was for her own satisfaction. She really got a kick out of knowing that she could try really hard and get there."

The youngster also attended the Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, performed at the 2012 South Cumbria Music Festival in Ulverston, and sang with the renowned Amabile Girls' Choir.

Leader Rachel Little said: "The Amabile Girls' Choir motto is 'Choir is our Family'.

Helena will always be a part of that family and I know that the girls felt privileged to have sung with her and want to honour her name by continuing to sing with spirit she inspired in us all."

Helena was a pupil at Castle Park Primary School and then Windermere School, before moving to Kirkbie Kendal in 2011.

Among her passions, she also enjoyed photography and travelling, and her parents said she had ambitions of seeing the world.

They said family was particularly important to her, and she enjoyed spending time with her brother, Declan, 14, and visiting her grandparents in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mr Farrell said: "She was an amazing person. I know every father thinks that about his daughter, but she was.

"Everybody has said to me that when she was singing or playing her cello she was shining, because she would put her whole heart into making her music.

"I'm going to miss her making that music and I’m going to miss that light. When I said she was the light of my life, she really was.

"She really made so proud that my daughter was so caring for other people as well. She wasn’t selfish."

Mrs Farrell said she had ambitions to be an actress and would 'light up' on stage.

"It’s not just because we’re her parents that we think she’s special in that way. If the Amabile Choir was singing she would be the one your eyes would go to.

"She was noticed. She had an amazing voice, a truly amazing voice."

However, they said Helena suffered 'dark thoughts' which they believe led to her death.

They said the problems began after a school exchange trip to Germany in year nine when bulimia began to blight her otherwise-happy life.

"In the last few months it became apparent to us and to her teachers that she had an eating disorder and suffered with mood swings and lack of confidence or with lack of self esteem at times," they said.

"We picked up on it and she had started seeing a counsellor but she didn’t tell us anything that was on her mind.

"The school did everything in their power. They were brilliant. But despite the help she got she didn’t express the full extent of her despair."

Mrs Farrell added: "I think there’s a stereotype that people who commit suicide are selfish but she wasn’t. She wasn’t able to understand. It was her way out of it, but I don’t know why that was her only option."

A private celebration for Helena will be held at the Castle Green Hotel on Sunday afternoon.

From 4.30pm anyone who would like to pay their respects is invited to gather at Kendal Castle for a short vigil.

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