Although not Covid19 related, we feel as a source of your local news in these difficult times, we should report the passing of Helen Wyles, formerly of Manor Farm and a distinctive and distinguished member of the Community for many years.
29 July 1927 – 2 April 2020
It really doesn’t seem that long ago since Helen was part of most of our daily lives. Whether it was knocking at your door late at night to let you know that your milk was on the doorstep, or rounding people up to perform in the next play or concert she was preparing.
She was born at Manor Farm to Christopher and Clarissa Wyles and was the grand daughter to the Rev. Walter Wyles, Vicar of this parish 1890-1930. Her love of music led her to singing lessons with Ursula Nettleship and then to “Master Classes in Singing” at U.V.A with the late Sir Peter Pears. In 1949 she founded the “Coddenham Players”, for children and adults to perform pantomimes, concerts, pageants and short plays etc., here in the village.
From 1947 she worked alongside her father with the milking herd of Red Poll cattle. Her father died in 1972 and she carried on in partnership with her mother, who died in 1983. Two years later the equipment for pasteurisation was installed, to process whole milk, skimmed milk and cream, to be sold locally until 2012.
Her dual aims in life had always been for the preservation of the Red Poll cattle and conservation of the landscape, flora and fauna.
Helen went to the nursing home in Witnesham in 2014, always talkative and bright. She faded away and died peacefully. That old brown hat will be well remembered.
Sylvia Bickers April 4th 2020
Can I add my own personal recollection.
Like so many, our first introduction to a Coddenham resident, was through Helen’s “meet and greet“ services, clutching two bottles of milk on our arrival in the village in 2004.
Quickly warned by so many “don’t volunteer for the plays”, my family and I found ourselves in one just three years later. It was the most hilarious, challenging and unique experience in my (short) acting career. I recollect it being greatly assisted by Roy ‘ Dame Edna Everidge’ Gudgin’s backstage hospitality. What an Australian comedian was doing in a mediaeval play, was anyone’s guess.
Incredibly, the plays always happened, entertained so many and were almost a rite of passage to Coddenham village life (for audience or player).
We missed her (single-handedly) banging the milk pail for her cows at five in the morning and shouting at the enormous bull.
Her recollections and stories of the village were always fascinating, even allowing for embellishment. I do hope some have been captured for posterity. Does anyone have a copy of the video of her singing, that was sold in the shop for a while?
Helen certainly will never be forgotten and I hope there will be an opportunity to formally celebrate her life in the future.
I only met Helen a few times as we arrived in Coddenham shortly before she was admitted to the nursing home at Witnesham. Nonetheless there was of course the invitation to take part in the historical pageant almost as a first greeting. Next was the historical walk, which must have been in the summer of 2014, when we looked at the excavation with evidence of the Roman road across the Lawns. The walk then proceeded to the garden at Coddenham House with constant talk of how it used to be.
The red polls were still here at that time.
Helen was later admitted to the nursing home, where Brenda Goodchild regularly visited her and occasionally relayed information from their conversations. When she and Gerry were preparing a visit to family in Australia Brenda asked if I would visit Helen on her behalf. After a false start when Helen was indisposed (I think) we had two long conversations ranging over many aspects of the history of Coddenham. It was amazing to think how much could be retained in someone’s mind – a salutary lesson to those of us brought up on electronic media, from TV to the internet.
Helen would never have been at a loss in a power cut.
It is a great shame that COVID-19 will prevent the community showing its affection and respect for an important local personality.
I was very sad to hear of Miss Wyles passing, I have many happy memories of working at Manor Farm often in exchange for an implement or tractor part I had found in one of the hedges! A true countrywoman and one of Suffolks finest characters may she rest in peace.
Thank you for your comment Harry – perhaps drop a line to the History Club? They would I’m sure be interested to hear your recollections.
Sad news and the end of an era for Coddenham. Helen appeared at our door with some milk almost on our first night at The Pink House. We had milk (somewhat sporadically!) from her for many years, but never had a bill! Every so often we paid her what we thought we owed her, just leaving the money in the dairy. We will never forget Debbie being called in to be Cinderella (to Helen’s Prince Charming) at the last moment when the lead actress ‘went sick’ (hmm…). Miming songs she didn’t know whilst Sylvia Harris sang the words from offstage. One of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen, though Deb’s still having counselling…
Rest in Peace Helen – a much loved and truly unique lady.
David and Debbie McDonnell
What a character. Always a story to tell whilst in Coddenham and during my regular visits to Witnesham Nursing Home. Her memories of the past were so clear and enlightening. I know efforts were made to record this knowledge. A life well lived. I will miss her. xxxx
I haven seen Helen for many years but she was a great friend of my mothers(Sylvia Harris) they got up to also sorts together. She will be missed
Sad news. Have many great memories of Helen. A lovely lady and character who will be fondly remembered by Coddenham residents past and present. God bless you Helen x
Helen was one of the first people we met when we moved to Coddenham. She knocked at our door and asked if we would like some fresh farm milk. From then on she persuaded me that I should take part in her plays! I shall never forget being Cinderella and in my carriage, an adapted wheelchair! I was pushed, in stately fashion, down the aisle of the church, waving to everyone as if I was the queen! Such happy memories that will stay with me always. God bless, HELEN.
We were stationed at RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge from 1990-92 and lived in Coddenham for a period of that time. Helen and her beautiful Red Poll cows will always be a part of our many cherished memories of Coddenham. Of course, we bought our milk from her. She was so convincing, how could we not? Delivering her precious cows’ milk door-to-door by torchlight will forever be a memory for me. Her work ethic was astounding, the love for her cows touching, and her singing voice heavenly. We pray that her family and friends find comfort during this time of loss. May her memory be eternal.