Emma Thompson and Colin Firth lead memorial service to torture victims advocate

Emma Thompson was one of a handful of stars who led tributes to their close friend and advocate for victims of torture, the late Helen Bamber, at a memorial service.

Ms Thompson was joined by fellow actors Colin Firth and Juliet Stephenson to hear of the tens of thousands of lives that Ms Bamber helped rebuild at a moving memorial service on Tuesday to the human rights champion, who died in August.

For almost 70 years, Muswell Hill resident Ms Bamber dedicated her life to those who suffered torture, trafficking, slavery, war and the extremes of human cruelty.

Mr Firth recalled how she vowed “never to be a bystander” early in her life.

Speaking at the service at St-Martin-In-The-Fields church in Westminster, he said: “Ultimately it was her compassion which one felt the most. It was contagious.

“I am quite certain that because of this her work will flourish and proliferate.”

Since 1945, Ms Bamber helped tens of thousands of people to confront the horror and brutality of their experiences.

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She set up Amnesty International’s medical wing, as well as helping victims of Chilean and Argentinian torture and disappearance squads tell their stories and rebuild their lives.

She then opened the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture in 1985 at the age of 60.

Ms Bamber worked 60-hour weeks into her late 80s at the helm of the Camden Town-based Helen Bamber Foundation, where she widened the definition of torture to one defined by the survivor.

Other patrons and fundraisers present at the service included Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn and comedians Jo Brand and Jeremy Hardy.

Named European woman of achievement in 1993, and awarded an OBE in 1997, Helen Bamber worked ceaselessly with many of those who gathered to honour her on Tuesday until she retired due to ill health aged 88, last year.