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A tribute to the talented illustrator and designer Jayne Helliwell.

Jayne Helliwell was an incredibly talented illustrator and designer who worked on issue 08 of Amelia's Magazine. She sadly suffered a fatal collision with a bus whilst riding her bike down Oxford Street on the 14th April 2010.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Jayne Helliwell, <a target=page Amelia's Magazine 2007″ title=”Jayne Helliwell, help Amelia's Magazine 2007″ width=”480″ height=”360″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-16288″ />
Jayne in my kitchen eating iced fairy cakes with fellow interns Jessica and Christel.

Last night I heard the horrific news that my ex intern, pill the illustrator and designer Jayne Helliwell, was crushed to death by a bus whilst cycling down Oxford Street. She was just short of 26 years old. I was asked to comment by the Evening Standard for an article that has just gone live this morning.

Jayne was an incredibly talented and extremely likeable girl who worked on issue 08 of Amelia’s Magazine in 2007. At that stage my interns were squashed together in the kitchen, and Jayne bonded well with the others, some of whom she went on to work with later (read about her collaboration with Christel Escosa on I M / / U R here). She was one of those interns who drifted in and out because she was so busy with other projects, but I didn’t mind because the quality of her work was so good. She was quick, and she could turn her hand to pretty much any creative task with ease, be it designing, illustrating, writing or picking out the best new music.

Jayne Helliwell
Jayne Helliwell
Some of Jayne’s design work in issue 08 of Amelia’s Magazine.

She was really into the idea of living sustainably and I was impressed with her devotion to veganism – Jayne often eschewed what I had cooked in favour of some tasty morsel she had concocted herself, and she, like me, insisted on cycling absolutely everywhere. I really liked working with someone who had similar ideas about ways in which we can live more lightly on the earth.

Jayne has gone on to do lots of amazing work in the creative industries. I hadn’t spoken to her in quite awhile but I was aware that she was doing well because as well as being so talented she was so prolific: it came as no surprise to find that she worked extensively with musicians, amongst many others. Jayne had a great career ahead of her and she will surely be much missed by many people. You can read another tribute here.

Jayne Helliwell

Of course, it all seems so senseless because this tragic accident could so easily have been avoided. Why are our streets so unsafe? We are (rightly) encouraged to cycle more, and we are. There are now many more people on bikes than when I first hit the roads with two wheels nearly ten years ago. Cycling a bike has immeasurably improved my life, and yet many people I know refuse to cycle because it has become so dangerous. I’ve known three people to have been killed in bike accidents, including a Greenpeace climber that I met when we were both arrested at the Kingsnorth Climate Camp in 2008. We got on really well, swapped numbers and arranged to meet up – a month later she was dead. When are the roads going to be made safer? What does it take? How many people have to die?

I’ve cycled down Oxford Street several times in recent weeks, and every time I’ve thought “this is a death trap” – it’s a nightmare obstacle course for every kind of moving object, a collision waiting to happen. Add to this the nonchalant attitude of bus drivers – who frequently ignore cyclists and push us right into the curb – and you’ve got an extremely dangerous situation. Much has been done to educate heavy goods vehicles for the need to stay away from cyclists, but the same cannot be said for buses, with whom we share the same lane on the road. It’s utter madness.

Jayne Helliwell eating lunch with the other interns
Jayne eating lunch with the other interns.

I really really hope that Jayne’s death will not have been in vain: we need dedicated lanes for cyclists on all the major roads in London, and we need them now. Not at some spurious point in the future. Who is going to make it happen?

On my website Jayne’s contributor’s blurb lives on, but it’s worth transcribing it here. It was written by Jessica Watkins, who was an intern at the same time. I think it just about sums her up: Jayne was a laugh and so much more.

Jayne Helliwell is a little gem to work with. The first time I saw her, she came pacing across the paving stones towards me, wearing a checked shirt to her knees and pushing a Raleigh Cameo speed bike. Jayne later informed me that it was the same bicycle her mum carried her around on when she was just a miniature girl. My initial, judgemental impression of her was that she was ever-so-cool, and ever-so-small. I wasn’t sure she would want to be my friend, but now we spend our days making each other chamomile teas in Amelia’s kitchen and laughing about elephants in the room. I suppose you have to be there. When she grows up, Jayne fancies being a draw-er, or perhaps an Olympic athlete? For now though, she works at Amelia’s Magazine, looking important on her Apple Mac Power Book. Her likes include cake, and eating cake, but only if it is vegan. Today she sampled Amelia’s mushy pea dahl, and decided that should be on her list of likes also. Jayne has great taste in music, which comes in handy when reviewing albums for the magazine, and when I feel like hearing a new band. She has so far introduced me to everything from Serge Gainsbourg to Tilly and the Wall. We’re ever so trendy here at Amelia’s. One more thing you might need to know about Jayne is that she has the most infectious laugh in the world.”


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12 Responses to “A tribute to the talented illustrator and designer Jayne Helliwell.”

  1. lesley says:

    so sad – I just discovered her work both her illustration and her moving image work…her work is inspirational and will live on…

  2. bex glover says:

    A beautiful tribute Amelia. She was so young and it’s so very sad to have lost such an emerging talent.

  3. Abi says:

    Very nice tribute – have only just discovered her work and it’s amazing. Very sad.

  4. abi says:

    What a lovely piece of writing. This is heartbreaking to read, it sounds like she was a brilliant person and friend, the fun photo’s show the lovely times shared. I’m thinking of you all who have lost a friend, I know how terrible it can be, this kind of accident happens too often xx

  5. percy says:

    So sorry to hear about this news, I have read all about it, she would be so thrilled with your words about her x

  6. Elemental Child says:

    How very sad I’m sorry to read that. Such a loss of a young life it doesn’t seem right. I lost the love of my life that way. Such a bright light in the world… gone too soon.

  7. jess watkins says:

    a lovely tribute amelia. those photos bring it all back. it’s just so sad x

  8. Katy Marie says:

    Such a lovely tribute, Jayne was one of my best friends during school and never failed to surprise me. Random, Gifted and one of the most Genuine people i have met to date, she will live on through her art which can only be descibed as Genius. We shall give her a good send off tomorrow, gone but never to be forgotton, much love x

  9. Amelia says:

    Hi Katy
    thanks so much! I’ve been a bit worried that I might upset close friends and family, so it’s good to hear that you like the blog. Please also pay my respects tomorrow, my thoughts are with you, Amelia x

  10. Katy Marie says:

    I’m so sorry for the year late Reply Amelia, whoops. Just googled her name, as thinking about her alot today on what would have been her 27th birthday, it was always hard to forget Jaynes birthday as she’d never let you forget that she shared her birthday with the Queen! LOL. Came across this, still so Raw, yet loved reading it again, so thank you, magazine is fab :) x

  11. Amelia says:

    Thanks for letting me know Katy. I think about her a lot and I am sure she is in a lot of people’s hearts. Especially today. xxx

  12. [...] of the break. (There are two heart breaking orbituaries written by friends and colleagues of her: here and [...]

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