Debby Helf Wins the Hamber!

Ask anyone in Kelowna who knows anything at all about our theatre scene and it doesn’t take long before the name Debby Helf surfaces. A former president of Theatre Kelowna, Debby has lived, breathed, dreamt and starred in theatre productions here in Kelowna since the 70s and on Saturday night, she was publicly recognized for her efforts at Theatre BC’s Mainstage event, by being awarded the Hamber Award – a sort of lifetime achievement plus outstanding commitment award.

I was honoured to have the privilege of being asked to write one of the nominations letters for Debby and was holding my breath Saturday evening, in hopes there would be a text or call with the good news.

Debby, WE LOVE YOU!!!!

The following is the letter I sent in with her nomination (and a HUGE thank you goes to Sharon and Eugene Leveque for taking the time to nominate her!!!) along with the photo I put together (thanks to Tiffany Bilodeau for the use of her beautiful ballerina body!) when I created the “Debby Awards” mentioned in my letter.
2010 Debby AWard

Re: Support letter for Debby Helf for the Eric Hamber Award

I have been covering the arts in the Okanagan for various media since March 1990 – for Kelowna Daily Courier (1990 to 1999), Okanagan Life Magazine (1991 to 2001), Kelowna Capital News (1999 to 2009) and eVent Magazine (2009 to 2013). Throughout all of these years, I have had the honour and privilege of dealing with Debby Helf numerous times per year – always to do with Theatre Kelowna.

Debby was president of Theatre Kelowna for many, many years and even the years she hasn’t been president, she has still always been involved handling the media for them and helping out whoever is president. For every single production, she gleefully tracks me down to tell me with her usual infectious enthusiasm about whatever production it is they are working on at the time. Nobody has ever had a more charismatic drive or energetic enthusiasm level then Debby when it comes to community theatre!

When I first met Debby, she was busy championing to create an arts centre in Kelowna where the old Growers Supply Building was. It was where Debby and the Theatre Kelowna volunteers used to rehearse but Debby being Debby, was certain it could be so much more. It was in part thanks to Debby’s hard work and perseverance that Kelowna now has the beautiful Rotary Centre for the Arts.

As an actor, Debby has always shown great skill and her talents have earned her many awards over the years including several Ozone best supporting actress awards as well as a Theatre BC Mainstage award in 2004 for best supporting actress, so when I decided to create my own theatre awards for the City of Kelowna, I decided they should be called the Debby Awards in her honour.

Debby was the first to win a Lifetime Achievement Debby Award and rightfully so. I don’t know how Theatre Kelowna would ever get along without her. She truly is a gift to our theatre community and I can think of nobody more deserving of the Eric Hamber Award than Debby.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any more gushing about just how amazing this woman is!!!

Thank you for your time,


About artseenokanagan

Freelance writer and photographer in Kelowna, specializing in the Arts.
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