GRASSROOTS hero Helen Fisher admits receiving an honour from HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace yesterday (Monday) was a ‘surreal’ moment.
Helen was one of 150 people invited to attend the event which recognised her outstanding service to community football.
In her role as secretary of Sporting Club Albion, Helen played an instrumental role in establishing the ladies team – then known as West Bromwich Albion Ladies – back in 1998, working as a volunteer for 11 years (1998-2009) before becoming a part-time member of staff in 2009.
What makes Rubery-based Helen’s efforts even more remarkable is that she has been battling breast cancer for the last nine years and retired last summer from her role as secretary at the Albion Foundation – West Bromwich Albion’s charitable arm which runs Sporting Club Albion.
“It was certainly a special day,” said Helen.
“From the moment we drove through the gates at Buckingham Palace to the moment we drove back out again it was an incredible day.
“Prince William shook my hand and said, ‘well done Helen’.
“It was a surreal moment.
“With my situation people have asked me whether I have a bucket list.
“I haven’t got one and I just take life as it comes.
“If I had a bucket list I don't think I could have dreamed up Monday.
“It was humbling to know that I was one of 150 to have received the award and every one of the recipients fully deserved their awards.”
During her 15 years’ service, Helen oversaw the administration of the ladies team as they progressed from the FA Women’s Midland Combination League to the Premier League (Northern Division).
And Helen insists women’s football, which she will continue to attend following her retirement, has been an outlet during a difficult period.
“Women’s football has taken over my life, it’s in my blood,” she added.
“It’s very difficult to walk away from when you have been so involved in it.
“My focus now needs to be on other parts of my life.
“I will still be going to the games to watch the girls – that’s where my heart is.
“I’ve been receiving treatment for three years on what is my third time around with cancer.
“Although I continue to receive chemotherapy, my treatment has been girls’ football.
“It has been a distraction from what I have been going through.
“I was diagnosed in 2004, 2008 and again in 2012 and it’s all ongoing.
“My cancer hasn’t spread and my treatment will continue until something changes.
“I will keep fighting.
“I don’t believe in half full or half empty, my cup is always three-quarters full.”