Derbyshire charity founder remembers the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

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“They will never be another one like her – she was amazing,” one of the founders of a Peak District charity has said about the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Deborah Cavendish was known for being a great supporter of charity – and even in death she has done her best to promote one of her favourite causes, Helen’s Trust.

When the Dowager passed away on September 24 aged 94, she asked for mourners and members of the public make donations in her memory to the Bakewell–based charity, as well as one other charity, the Addington Fund.

Helen’s Trust is a charity which helps terminally ill people to stay in their homes.

Dr Louise Jordan, who was one of three funding trustees of the charity in 2001, said she was ‘lucky’ to enjoy a personal relationship with the Dowager over the years.

“In 2001 I went to see the Dowager to talk to her about Helen’s Trust and straight away she got what we were trying to do. There was no question in her mind that this was an incredible cause,” Dr Jordan, a GP based in Baslow, said.

As she was in her 80s at the time, the Dowager declined the opportunity to be a patron for Helen’s Trust – recommending the current Duchess of Devonshire, Amanda Cavendish, who became patron of the charity. Despite not becoming an official patron however, the Dowager still gave her full support to Helen’s Trust.

Dr Jordan continued: “Every fundraising event we did she’d come to.

“She would just come along for a short time and make sure everyone knew what an incredible charity it was.”

When the Dowager moved to her house in Edensor, she even suggested opening her home up to the public in order to raise money for the trust.

“There was a queue outside the village to get in, so she got her stick and she went down to talk to the people who were queuing,” Dr Jordan added.

“She was absolutely unique. She was very strongly interested in local things.”

The doctor started out as the Dowager’s GP, however they developed a personal relationship over the years.

The Dowager became a friend of the family and in particular took her eldest son Sam under her wing.

“When he was about nine she took him out to show him how to look after chickens, and when the chickens laid eggs, she made sure he came for egg and soldiers with her.”

By making Helen’s Trust a beneficiary after her death, the Dowager boosted the profile of the small charity and it has received many donations as a consequence.

“It’s typical of her that she chose two small charities where any money makes a difference,” Dr Jordan said.