Arts Society Chair recognised for outstanding contribution

Helen Sijsling.
Helen Sijsling. / H. Sijsling
  • Helen Sijsling should have received the award at the international cultural charity's AGM which was due to take place in Malaga this month

Chair of the Nerja Arts Society Helen Sijsling has won an award for her outstanding contribution to the society since she took on the role four years ago.

Unbeknown to Helen, the Nerja society's treasurer Robert Durston had nominated her for the award which is organised through the UK-based Marsh Christian Trust back in January.

She said that she was "flabbergasted" when she heard that she was to receive the recognition.

Helen, who is well-known and loved for her energy and passion for the arts and the Arts Society, should have been presented with the award at the society's AGM which was due to take place in Malaga on 13 May. It would have been the first time the international society's annual meeting took place outside of London.

Instead she says she will probably have to travel to London at a later date to receive it.

The art-lover has already decided that she is going to spend the prize money on art, but hasn't disclosed whether or not she has her eye on something specific. "I am going to buy art from a local artist," she confirmed.

Helen has also discovered that this is only the second time a Marsh Christian Trust award has gone to an Arts Society member outside the UK. The first one went to a member of a New Zealand society in 2019.

Making a difference

The trust was established in 1981 by Brian Marsh OBE, a financial services broker and philanthropist.

It works closely with a number of charities including the Arts Society and the award that Helen has been chosen for is, in the words of the foundation, "for organisations and individuals who make a difference to a cause they believe in".

Robert explained that he came across some information about the trust's award programme while he was doing some administrative work for the local branch and decided to nominate Helen.

In her typically modest manner, Helen says the award was "for all of us for what we have achieved these past years. It is teamwork and could never have been done by just the chairman".

She adds, "It really is a positive reward for what we all together have made of The Arts Society Nerja. A medal for all of us, for those running the society, the committee and the ever loyal support group, and all our loyal members and visitors who have kept supporting us in all these years."