Legendary Liverpool Writer honoured with Blue Plaque

Words and video by Shahla Jahanshad. 

The life of one of Merseyside’s best-loved authors was honoured at an unveiling of a blue plaque.

The event took place in Hoylake on Friday in celebration of the late June Bhatia, better known by her pen name of Helen Forrester, to coincide with what would have been the author’s 100th birthday.

Actors Sian Reeves, from Emmerdale and Coronation Street, and Mike Moraghan, who is best known for his part in Holby City, unveiled the plaque.

Helen Forrester’s life story is one of riches to rags. The unveiling coincides with the launch of ‘By The Waters Of Liverpool,’a theatre production written by musician and playwright Rob Fennah.

Forrester was a multi-million selling author and wrote four autobiographies as well as other books. By The Waters Of Liverpool encompasses all four of her biographies and gives a complete picture of her life.

Helen’s son, Robert Bhatia also attended the celebrations and said that both Hoylake and Liverpool were extremely important to her.

The video below is set to the song Butterfly In The Rain, written by Rob Fennah, from the band Alternative Radio.

He wrote this song in the late 80s and Helen used it when promoting her books around the world.

The video features images of Liverpool and Hoylake in the video as both places were important to Helen. 

Hoylake was where her grandmother lived and where she spent all her school holidays until the age of 11.

When the great depression occurred, in the 30s, her father went bankrupt and the family lost everything. Her father moved the whole  family (of nine) to Liverpool, thinking that he would find employment there, but it wasn’t to be.

Helen’s grandmother fell out with her son when he went bankrupt, so once in Liverpool the visits to her grandmother’s house stopped and the title to Forrester’s first autobiographical book, Twopence To Cross The Mersey, originates from her childhood belief that if she could just get hold of Twopence then she could travel over the water and visit her beloved grandmother.

Minerva is shown as there was a time when Helen felt like this statue was ‘the only friend’ she had.

Other pictures of Liverpool include the Liver Bird (the symbol of Liverpool), St George’s Hall and Central Library (both used by Helen while living in Liverpool).

On the other side of the Mersey are images of Hoylake, North Parade and the seafront.

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