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Tuesday, April 22, 2008



Jul 23 2007

TEARS were shed as Doctor Who star David Tennant said a last goodbye to his loving mum.

The Paisley actor paid an emotional tribute to Helen McDonald at her funeral, telling mourners that she had “made the world a better place.”

Heartbroken David took time out from filming the hit sci-fi series in Wales at the weekend to return home to say a final farewell to Helen after she lost her brave battle with cancer.

He was joined at the funeral service by other members of the family – including his dad, the Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald – as well as around 600 more people whose lives had been touched by 67-year-old Helen.

Caring charity worker Helen, of Dykebar, Paisley, courageously fought cancer for five years before she passed away on July 15 with David and other family members at her bedside.

David couldn’t mask his sorrow as he paid tribute.

He paused on several occasions to compose himself as he spoke of his great pride in living in the light of his mother, and being part of her family.

David told mourners: “I will always be proud of all that mum did and that she made the world a better place.

“I am privileged to have known her and received her love.

“Now that mum has gone, the world has lost a lot of its colour.”

David’s tribute came as, together with his sister Karen and brother Blair, he read passages from a Bible which Helen had been given for her 21st birthday, when she attended St George’s Tron Church in Glasgow.

Courageous Helen read sections of that very same Bible every night.

It was at St George’s Tron that Helen and her husband Sandy first met.

The Very Rev Dr James Simpson, who conducted Saturday’s funeral service at Renfrew North Parish Church, described how, shortly after that first meeting, Helen had to go into hospital and Sandy visited her there with a beautiful bouquet of white tulips.

“Helen’s mum was already in the infirmary, speaking to Helen, when Sandy came in with his flowers,” said Dr Simpson, who is a chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen. “Like most men, Sandy was a bit embarrassed about carrying the flowers, so he dropped them by the bedside and rushed out of the hospital.

“Helen’s mum told her: ‘That young man is serious about you.’

“And, soon afterwards, she and Sandy were married.”

Those happy days of Helen and Sandy’s romance were poignantly remembered by a beautiful bouquet of white tulips - just like the ones he had courted her with – which lay on the communion table throughout the funeral service.

And during the commemoration, the congregation sang inspirational hymns which had been chosen by Helen.

They included Henry Francis Lyte’s great hymn ‘Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven,’ which extols the eternity of creation and the brevity of human life.

There were tears in the eyes of many mourners during the singing of another of Helen’s favourite hymns – Horatius Bonar’s ‘I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say, Come Unto Me And Rest.’

But there was happiness, too, because Helen didn’t want those who came to celebrate her life to leave the church downcast.

At her own request, the final hymn she chose was ‘You Shall Go Out With Joy And Be Led Forth With Peace.’

And, as the congregation sang the final lines of the chorus – ‘the trees of the fields shall clap their hands’ – everyone in the church clapped their hands together to create the sounds of joy and happiness which Helen wanted.

David, who took time out from filming a Doctor Who episode in Wales to say a final farewell to his mum, told mourners: “She wanted this to be a service of celebration and it is easy to celebrate her life.”

The celebratory aspect of the service continued right to the very end, with an unusual departure from tradition.

As he led his family from their seats in the front pews down the aisle to the vestibule to thank people for coming to the service, Sandy – a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland – clapped his hands and joined the congregation in singing some of Helen’s beloved gospel hymns.

During the service, Sandy thanked everyone for supporting his family in their time of tribulation – especially the Rev Lorna Hood, minister of Renfrew North, where he and Helen had made their spiritual home after ‘gypsying’ round other places during his lifetime in the ministry, which took him to charges like St Mark’s Oldhall in Paisley and incumbencies in Edinburgh and Bathgate.

Mrs Hood was unable to attend the service because she is in the United States at present.

Sandy also paid tribute to staff at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, Charleston Medical Centre and ACCORD Hospice, as well as other carers who had looked after Helen during her long fight against cancer.

Earlier, Helen’s committal took place at a private service at Woodside Crematorium in Paisley attended by members of her family and close friends.

During her life of service to her family and community, Helen – who was highly respected for her charity work – was chair of the Paisley Friends of ACCORD Hospice.

She was also a volunteer for Arthritis Care, the WRVS, the Samaritans and elderly care charity Contact.

I just happened upon this article while looking for news about David. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman. David and his family must miss her a lot.


cheyenne said...

that is so sad i cried because she was very nice ans worked in a charity shop to help children and raise money for charity so sorry david

cheyenne said...

so sorry for all those people that new her.

cheyenne said...

she is at peace now no more suffering with that awful cancer

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