Marie given charity award

Dedication Service at St Marys, Billinge of a memorial bench for Helen McCourt.  July 27 2008'Marie rests on the bench.'Picture by Maurice Jones 01204 410696
Dedication Service at St Marys, Billinge of a memorial bench for Helen McCourt. July 27 2008'Marie rests on the bench.'Picture by Maurice Jones 01204 410696
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A COURAGEOUS Billinge mother has been recognised for the different ways in which she has helped the families of homicide victims.

Marie McCourt’s daughter, Helen, was murdered 23 years ago. Although there were charges brought against an individual, a trial, and a lengthy custodial sentence, Helen’s body has never been recovered.

Helen, of Standish Avenue, was killed after leaving Royal Insurance in Liverpool on February 9, 1988. She boarded a bus back home to Billinge and was never seen again. Her remains have never been found.

George and Dragon publican Ian Simms was convicted of her murder despite protesting his innocence – but has never revealed where the body is.

Marie donates much of her time towards SAMM (Support After Murder and Manslaughter), a charity which supports people whose loved ones have been unlawfully killed.

There is no membership fee and apart from donations from police forces across the country and other agencies, SAMM members raise money through separate fundraising activities.

Marie said: “I absolutely didn’t expect the award. I don’t like receiving individual praise so I hope that it goes to publicising SAMM.

“Through our work, we support the families of the victims of murder and manslaughter.

“It is a vital service and through it, we have saved marriages and even lives. Using our own experiences we are able to relate to families problems.”

Marie still prays every week to St Martha, whose festival date was the birthday of Helen, that one day Simms will admit to what he has done.