One of the island’s leading advocates has paid tribute to a pillar of the Ballasalla community who had a remarkable relationship with one of the leading lights of the Manx legal profession.
Helen Kinvig, who died peacefully last week aged 83, was instrumental in the founding of Simcocks Advocates and spent more than 60 years with the company.
After leaving school she joined local law firm Kelly, Moore and Kelly in 1947 to assist Howard Simcocks, then a law student who was preparing to take his final exams despite being blinded in action at the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944.
She would spend most of her working life acting as Howard’s ‘eyes’ as he progressed through the fields of law, politics and government.
Simcocks’ chief executive officer Phil Games described their unique working relationship.
‘Each morning she would collect Mr Simcocks from his house and they would catch the bus into Douglas,’ he said.
‘They shared an office and he relied upon her to take clients’ instructions, read his mail and the latest law reports and run his office.’
They made a striking pair when, during the 1950s, St Dunstan’s School for the Blind gave Mr Simcocks a tandem bicycle to travel between his home in Ballasalla and Simcocks’ Castletown office.
Helen described the challenges of riding the tandem during an interview in 2009.
‘It was an old fashioned bike and very heavy,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t start it unless I was at the pavement edge, sitting on it ready to push off. I was so relieved when it went back. The amazing thing was that people used to ask if I rode at the back.’
When Howard entered the world of politics, Helen accompanied him around the Parish of Malew as he canvassed the electorate as a candidate for the commissioners. Eventually becoming an MHK and a member of the Legislative Council, it was Helen who helped draft Bills and devised a complex form of notes and prompts for him to take into the Chamber.
She continued to work with the firm as a conveyancing manager after Howard’s retirement in 1990, passing the astonishing milestone of 60 years of service in 2009.
Mr Games said: ‘Despite the demands of her career Helen become widely regarded as a pillar of her community as church organist in the parish of Malew, as a member of the WI, a lifelong badminton player, demon knitter, dressmaker and devoted aunt.
‘She will be sadly missed by us all at Simcocks.’