Your Timless Memories at The Helena May – By Rosslyn Carthy

Your timeless memories at the helena may - by Rosslyn Carthy

Among my many happy memories is the afternoon Sir Michael and late Lady Betty Kadoorie officially opened the beautiful ‘green’ wall at the back of the garden.  They had provided it to complete the privacy within the garden.

Sir Michael and I recalled old friends and acquaintances.  One was Dick Siegel (previous Director of Civil Aviation) who moved the airport from Kai Tak to Chek Lap Kok, and who still loves vintage cars.  He and Sir Michael would sometimes “meet” in their vintage models along roads in the New Territories!  Another mutual acquaintance was a young man whom I taught, whose grandfather (Frank Whittle) invented the jet engine, and whose father was one of the first pilots for Cathay Pacific when it began.  We also talked about the time Sir Michael asked permission to park under the huge old tree in the loading bay when he had very urgent business in the area, and how a story was built around that tree – “The Last Nut”.  Yes, happy memories mean such a lot.

Rosslyn Carthy



Your Timless Memories at The Helena May – By Pak Kay Lai

Your timeless memories at the helena may - by pak kay Lai

I am a new Helena May member. Literally. I have to confess that I have frequented the restaurant and the Blue Room a little bit more than I should. I like to be surrounded by the history, sophistication and generosity. And later, I found out that it is in the library where everything comes together.

This is the record card of the first book I borrowed. I am the twenty-ninth borrower and there were 31 years of history in front of me. The book was a sensation in the early 90s. It has been borrowed twice by the same member. Perhaps she did not have time to finish it the first time. But she showed courtesy to return it, waited, borrowed it again and enjoyed the rest of the story.

If there was a time travel machine, I would go to meet Member 3260. Have a little chat with her about how the book has inspired the later “code-breaking novels”. Then ask her about Helena May in the last century over a cup of tea and delicious biscuits.

I am not a nostalgic person. However, I think I know the place where I can integrate the past into my present and future.

Pak Kay Lai


timeless memories
timeless memories

Your Timless Memories at The Helena May – By Diana Rose

Your timeless memories at the helena may - by diana rose

It was a warm afternoon in November 1977 when I first walked through the doors of The Helena May.  I had arrived two days before on a container ship that had taken me on a voyage from Durban to Taiwan, Korea and Japan before leaving me with my two suitcases and steel trunk at Star Ferry, TST. 

A lady I sat next to on a bus kindly mentioned the club to me and I clearly remember my impressions of the Main Lounge that afternoon:  dark bamboo ‘peacock chairs’ that made me think of W. Somerset Maugham, ceiling fans quietly whirring, and a few ladies enjoying a cup of tea.  I felt I was truly in the Far East and I was excited about my next adventure.

The following day, I arrived by taxi with my luggage (fortunately, cars could stop right outside the main entrance at that time).  Someone helped me upstairs to the first floor and I think I was given Room 2.  Several doors were open to allow air to circulate, but there were ‘modesty curtains’ across each doorway to give privacy.  The old fireplaces were still intact (but not in use) and they made an interesting feature of the room.  There was a large, dark free-standing wardrobe with a mirror on the front, a desk and chair, a chest of drawers, two bamboo armchairs, a single bed with a green candlewick bedspread, a small side table and a lamp.  The furniture was simple but adequate.

Breakfast was held in the Garden Room in the section that has now been divided off as the Library.  (In those days, the Library was in the Green Room.) Joan Little, the Manager, was friendly but kept a tight rein on everything and it was rather like being in boarding school.  If one was out later than 10.30 in the evening, one had to ring the bell at the side entrance for Tommy, the Night Porter, to let you in.  If you came back a lot later than that, you were likely to be met with a scowl.  In the morning, residents would sign a book if they wanted dinner that evening.  There was little choice as such, but it was a hot meal and residents would sit in the Main Lounge socialising while we ate. 

There were no laundry facilities, but hardworking amahs would collect our items in the morning, mark them with our room number, wash and iron them and have them back to us in the afternoon.  One fridge in the bathroom served for all of us and I remember often finding my carton of milk had mysteriously been depleted!

I am still in close contact with several friends that I made here in those early days and I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the Helena May.  Without the support that it offered me, my life in Hong Kong might not have gone as well as it did.  Bless Lady Helena for the difference her vision made in my life and that of the countless other women who have passed through these doors.

Diana Rose


timeless memories
Breakfast at the Garden Room
timeless memories
Modesty curtains
timeless memories

Your Timless Memories at The Helena May – By Dorothy Wong

Your timeless memories at the helena may - by dorothy wong

Although I have lived in Hong Kong for over 40 years, I only joined The Helena May during the last decade. I regret not joining earlier! A year or two after joining, I became more involved, taking part in committees, and I was invited to become a Council member. I enjoyed my involvement very much during this time, and met many lovely and committed members.

Now I spend up to six months each year in Canada, so I am less involved. However, when I return, I receive the same warm welcome from staff and members. There are always members present that I know, which is wonderful! It is the one of the things I miss most from Hong Kong.

The Helena May is a very special and rather unique club.

Dorothy Wong


Your Timless Memories at The Helena May – By Helga Ann

Your timeless memories at the helena may - by helga ann

My mother, Ena Simms, came to Hong Kong in 1965 after taking early retirement from the BBC. She was a resident of The Helena May for two years (in 1965/66) and I used to make the trek from Kowloon once a week by bus, ferry and taxi to visit her. Her room was the very last at the end of the corridor, just opposite the terrace which is right above your office. Here we would sit and talk while my little son Sean splashed about in a plastic pool that she had set up.

It was very quiet in those days with little traffic on Garden Road and of course Cotton Tree Drive did not exist. We’d sit on our deck chairs and watch the Peak Tram ply its way up and down and we’d wave at the passengers. Naturally, we always went down for tea in the beautiful lounge, and for our favourite hot cakes (whatever happened to those?)

My mother enjoyed the convivial atmosphere she experienced at The Helena May and fostered many lasting friendships with like-minded expat ladies. Here she learnt Tai Chi and Chinese painting and continued these hobbies when she returned to London in 1967. Ena Simms kept diaries and was always writing articles about Hong Kong. During her years here, she regularly gave talks on Radio Hong Kong’s “Women’s Magazine” programme.

Helga Ann


timeless memories
Ena Simms and her grandson
timeless memories
Ena Simms and her grandson