helen beavis 002BEAVIS, Helen (nee Burchell), of St. Thomas, died Friday, March 8, 2013 at LHSC, University Hospital, London following a severe stroke and heart failure.  She was 84 years old.  Helen is survived by her husband of 63 years, Laurence J. “Laurie” Beavis, two daughters,  Alison and Jennifer Beavis of Toronto, a son, Bruce and his wife Kathleen and their daughter Katherine of Chicago, Illinois and two sisters, Davina Skedzuhn of Dusseldorf, Germany and Jasmine Moran of Seminole, Oklahoma.  Born in England, daughter of John and Lillian (nee McPhee) Burchell, she was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.  Helen was a medal winning highland dancer and appeared in plays as well as in early television programs on the BBC.  On arrival in Canada with her husband in 1954, she worked in the theatre, judged highland dance competitions and ran a school of dance.  Her career paused as she raised her children as a full-time mother, however she was an active volunteer in the community throughout those years.  Some of her achievements include establishing one of the first senior citizen drop-in centres in the city, providing leadership as a Sunday school superintendent at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church and as president of the St. Thomas Women’s Art Association, establishing Brownie and Girl Guide units at St. Hilda’s and subsequently serving as District Commissioner.  She utilized her music and drama background to train Guide leaders in the methods both in Canada and in the US.  Her return to the theatre world was marked by a celebrated performance as the Mother Superior in the Elgin Theatre Guild production of The Sound of Music. Helen went on to appear in a number of choice productions in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada.  A notable achievement in her career came when she appeared with Peter O’Toole as the housekeeper in Pygmalion and in A Child’s Christmas in Wales as Aunt Bessie.  She also appeared in numerous television commercials.  An avid reader and passionate about history and the arts, Helen delighted in travel throughout Canada and England where she visited museums, art galleries and historic sites.  Other memorable achievements include directing the British show for the St. Thomas Shivaree, teaching puppet making and puppetry to children, and numerous St. George’s Day celebrations.  In keeping with her wishes, cremation has taken place.  A memorial service to celebrate Helen’s life will be held at St. Hilda’s-St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 185 Elm Street, St. Thomas on Wednesday, March 13th at 11:00 a.m.  Memorial donations to the Alzheimer Society or St. Hilda’s-St. Luke’s Anglican Church gratefully acknowledged.  Arrangements entrusted to the Sifton Funeral Home, 118 Wellington St., St. Thomas (519-631-1160).

Email messages of condolence may be sent to siftonfuneralhome@sympatico.ca

For more information about this obituary visit http://canadaobits.ca/author/siftonfh/.

Filed Under: London, Ontario, St. Thomas, Toronto