Author inspired by family discovery releases debut book
- Credit: Helen Parker-Drabble
An author inspired after discovering more about her family history while on a trip to the Fens has published her first book.
In 2013, Helen Parker-Drabble learned that her grandfather, Walter Parker who was born in Upwell near Wisbech, had grown up in the Tank Yard building in Thorney where the village museum now stands.
Helen, a geneatherapist who explores mental health, psychology and neuroscience to deepen understanding of our ancestors, was overheard by a volunteer steward when speaking about the Parker family.
“He asked if I wanted an introduction to a lady whose mother was a Parker and had lived her life in Thorney. It had never occurred to me I could meet people who knew my grandad,” she said.
“In 2014, I sent a letter to local newspapers asking for information about the Parkers of Upwell and I was thrilled to receive an email from cousin Sue Oldroyd, née Parker, a few days later.
“Meeting new living cousins led to me reuniting three branches of the Parker family in the Tank Yard, Thorney. I not only found two living cousins, but I wrote a book!”
Helen lived with her grandfather Walter aged 11, but was keen to learn more about his Victorian childhood after he became emotionally distant.
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That is when the name of her first book, 'A Victorian’s Inheritance’, came into play.
“I had to find another way to unearth his story,” Helen said.
“Grandad was once a child, like any of us, and I needed to look at what this Victorian boy had inherited from his ancestors.
“When I explored the life of his parents and grandparents, a psychological inheritance unravelled, revealing intergenerational anxiety, trauma, loss, alcoholism, and depression. I think no family tree is without these.”
Mental health is another key topic Helen, who also holds a diploma in counselling, wants to address in a bid to enhance people’s lives for future generations.
“More people than ever are struggling with anxiety, addiction and depression,” she said.
“Mental health is finally being talked about and there’s an enormous amount of research being published.
“New understanding and the tools to implement it can help us live well and leave a healthier legacy.”