Obituary: Donald Helm, 92

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a volunteer who dedicated more than 30 years to the National Trust for Scotland.

Donald Helm was born in Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire, on November 20, 1921 and died in Edinburgh on February 25 at the age of 92.

He was educated at Stowe before reading law at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he became a life-long friend of Labour Party stalwart Sir Tam Dalyell.

After completing his studies, Mr Helm began working with BP in the early 1950s and spent four years in Nigeria before returning to the petrol giant’s head office in London.

By the end of the decade he had been appointed to the firm’s petro-chemical division at Grangemouth.

After taking early retirement, Mr Helm took a new job in the human resources department at Capital-based solicitors Shepherd and Wedderburn.

Then-managing partner at the law firm, Tom Drysdale, said: “Donald was a well-liked and resourceful personnel manager, who often went beyond the call of duty on the firm’s behalf.

“He was a good organiser and was in his element administering the firm’s social programme.”

Retiring for a second time in 1989, Mr Helm then devoted himself fully to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) having previously served as the chairman of the Edinburgh Members’ Centre.

He served on the NTS council and was also elected to its executive committee for a ten-year period between 1991 and 2001.

The trust’s mission as a conservation charity is to protect and promote Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage, a task Mr Helm was fully committed to.

Based at both the NTS offices in Charlotte Square and Hermiston Quay, he carried out various administrative tasks as well as working in the archives.

He was so highly regarded that not only was he given an MBE by the Queen in 1996, but in 2012 Mr Helm won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Trust’s Diamond Jubilee Awards.

Leading the tributes, Sir Kenneth Calman, the trust’s chairman, said: “Donald was a long-standing supporter of the National Trust for Scotland and served for over 36 years in many capacities, including council, regional committees, the Edinburgh Members’ Centre, Friends of Malleny Garden and on advisory committees.

“Donald was a committed volunteer and continued to be involved, working with the archives department. He leaves a lasting legacy.”

Away from the NTS, Mr Helm’s other great interest was the Territorial Army, from which he retired in 1989 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Married to Christine since 1957, he is survived by his wife and their two sons.