Helen Thomas (activist)

Helen Wyn Thomas (16 August 1966 – 5 August 1989) was a Welsh peace activist from Newcastle Emlyn. Hers was the only death incurred in the course of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp campaign.[1]

Helen Thomas Memorial Peace Garden

Early life and educationEdit

Helen Wyn Thomas was born at Newcastle Emlyn in Carmarthenshire. Her parents were John and Janet Thomas; they ran an electrical business in the town. She earned a history degree at Lancaster University.[2]

Activism and deathEdit

After college Helen Thomas lived in Cardiff[3] and worked for Cardiff Women's Aid,[4] before becoming interested in the protest at Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp. She had been at the camp only two months[4] when she died in August 1989, from head injuries sustained when she was struck by a West Midlands Police vehicle, while waiting to cross a road near the airbase's main "Yellow Gate". She was 22 years old. The death was ruled an accident at inquest, though her family and some fellow campaigners disputed that ruling. The family's request to reopen the investigation was denied.[2][5]

In 2010, a memorial was held at Greenham Common, led by her mother.[6] In 2011 a memorial bench was dedicated to Helen Thomas in her hometown, Newcastle Emlyn. At both memorial events, politician and musician Dafydd Iwan attended, and performed his song "Cân i Helen" (which is about Helen Thomas) in tribute.[7] She was the only individual participant named in the Greenham Common Peace Garden memorial,[8] with standing stones, an eternal flame feature, and a fountain at the centre of an inscribed spiral.[9][10][11]

In 2019, Thomas was one of five women shortlisted for commemoration with the first statue of a named woman in Wales.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jon Gower, The Story of Wales (Random House 2012): 314. ISBN 9781446417102
  2. ^ a b Rachael Misstear, "The Woman Who Paid the Ultimate Price for Peace" Wales Online (4 September 2011).
  3. ^ Steve Tucker, "Common's Garden Will Be a Memorial to Helen; South Wales Campaigner was 'Vibrant and Aware'" South Wales Echo (30 August 2001).
  4. ^ a b Ceri Jones, "Memorial to Anti-Missile Camp Victim" Western Mail (August 9, 2002).
  5. ^ Lyn Smith, Voices Against War: A Century of Protest (Random House 2011): 59, esp. quote from Katrina Howse. ISBN 9781845969820
  6. ^ "Service for Greenham Campaigner" BBC News (2 August 2010).
  7. ^ "Greenham Common Campaigner Helen Thomas is Honoured" BBC News (6 November 2011).
  8. ^ Records of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp (Yellow Gate), National Archives, Kew.
  9. ^ "Remembering Helen at Greenham Common" BEPJ: Cyfiawnder a Heddwch – Bro Emlyn – for Peace and Justice (10 July 2010).
  10. ^ David Lowe and Tony Joel, Remembering the Cold War: Global Contest and National Stories (Routledge 2014): 48. ISBN 9781317912590
  11. ^ Veronica Fiorato, "Greenham Common: the Conservation and Management of a Cold War Archetype" in John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft, eds., A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War (Left Coast Press 2009): 142-143. ISBN 9781598742596
  12. ^ "Statue No. 1". BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2019.

External linksEdit

  • A handmade booklet (1989), in the collection of the Women's Archive of Wales, dedicated to the memory of Helen Thomas