Lighthouse Country has lost one of its brightest lights.
The community is in shock after the sudden death of Helen Hallett. The owner of the Sandbar Café in Qualicum Bay died November 19 in hospital after a short but courageous battle with brain cancer.
Hallett, who turned 66 last month, was recently diagnosed with a tumor in her brain. She was scheduled for surgery in Victoria but had to be admitted to hospital before her treatment and fell into a coma about a week ago.
Her long-time friend Ken Kirkby said it was all very sudden and he is still coming to grips with the loss of Hallett who he said was an extraordinary person.
“Not only was she the matriarch of her own family, she became the matriarch of the community,” said Kirkby.
Hallet’s commitment to her customers and a number of local causes was unwavering.
As the operator of the Sandbar Café, Hallett’s smiling face greeted customers whether it was for an early morning breakfast, lunch or a weekend dinner with live music. Inside the cafe, work of 42 artists adorned the walls and over the years Hallett sold more than 200 pieces of their artwork.
The community figure also supported the Lighthouse Community Business Association and the Nile Creek Enhancement Society.
Kirkby explained how the Sandbar, thanks to Hallett’s hospitality, lifted the community out of some darker times when tourism was down and became what he called a nucleus in the village.
Kirkby said although the restaurant is now closed and people are mourning the deep loss of a genuine and compassionate woman, he is hopeful the legacy of her community spirit will live on for generations.
Kirkby is storing some of the paintings that were not retrieved by their owners before the restaurant was closed and said he can be reached at 250-757-8597.