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Published Author Helen Ross Finds Inspiration at Don Leggett House

Published author and Central Coast personality Helen Ross is one of Peninsula Village’s newest and most vibrant residents, having recently settled into her new home at Don Leggett House.

Change of location is nothing new for the 99-year old who grew up in Scotland before spending much of her life travelling around the world with her husband – Archie – and two sons – Irvine and William – due to Archie’s career within a special branch of Scotland Yard.

Helen is a long time resident of the NSW Central Coast, having moved to Australia in the early 1960s and enjoyed the past 30-years living an active life in the community of Kariong.

“Over the course of my life I’ve had the pleasure of visiting more countries than I can count – but I chose to settle down on the NSW Central Coast; I think that says it all,” said Helen.

“Everyone at Peninsula Village welcomed me with open arms and I felt right at home immediately – it’s wonderful being able to continue living on the Coast, but now have that extra support when need it,” she continued.

Helen’s life was always destined to become a novel.

From childhood, she took pleasure in putting her feelings and youthful experiences down in writing; however, it wasn’t until she was in her 80s that she considered formally sharing her stories with the world.

Having documented her travels over the years Helen published her first book, Vaila's Capri, in 2010 which reflects much of her experiences as well as her keen love of history.

“Two of my favourite destinations were Africa and the Isle of Capri – both of which feature quite significantly in the book,” shared Helen.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, but through my journal keeping I had essentially been writing the basis for Vaila’s Capri my entire life.

“Revisiting those journals whilst writing the novel brought me such joy – all those memories and emotions tied to the beautiful places and cultures came flooding back; I was able to relive those moments over again,” she continued.

Following the book’s launch, Gosford City Council invited Helen to take part in a promotional video which included various prominent people on the Central Coast.

Helen Ross

This experience launched her into the local spotlight and set in motion a series of events that led to an up-and-coming young artist inviting Helen to sit for her portrait.

“In 2013, Janelle Thomas asked if I would like to sit for my portrait to be painted and entered for the Archibald Prize,” explained Helen.

“It was a wonderful experience – both for me and my dog at the time, Kirsty, who wouldn’t be outdone and immediately hopped on to my lap to be included in the portrait,” she laughed.

While the artwork didn’t win the Archibald prize, it did win the Kilgour Prize in 2015 and can be found hanging proudly on the wall of her studio at the Village.

Helen now plans on completing her biography which has already been picked up by a publishing house.