23 April 2016
I had discovered a parallel in my life: between the need, fourteen years ago, to get to the truth about Ruth Ellis, the last woman in the UK to be hanged and about whom I was writing a book, and the need to find the murderer in a cold case from nearly half a century ago of Dr Helen Davidson, a much-loved Buckinghamshire GP. It is this need , this search for truth, that was consuming me again. This time I was about to embark on a seven year journey…another search for a killer.
During those seven years people in the Buckinghamshire town of Amersham, an army of them, helped me. One person knew one thing…another knew something else. With their help I pieced together the story of Dr Helen Davidson, the victim of a random killing, like a jigsaw… except it was a jigsaw with no picture on the outside of the box.
And during those seven years it was important for me to track my journey. Not just in ever-thickening lever arch files of data tucked away in chronological order (the only way I could think of collating the stuff that I was accumulating each day) but also writing from the heart in my daily journal. I didn’t just want to remember facts and timings, I wanted to keep my memory going – not remembering is one of those nightmare situations – and daily journalling (finding light and shade about my journey) has been uppermost in my mind. I knew I would be asked ordinary questions at some stage about the people who gave me help, how I chanced on them and I wanted to be ready for those questions.
Each person I met knew a small part of the story. By talking to more and more people in Amersham I was connecting the dots…putting the story together…a different story to the one I’d read about in the newspaper cuttings emerged. One gentleman who was in hospital following a stroke was keen to talk to me. The message came through that he had a lot to say to me and he’d recommend other people if he didn’t know the answer to something. This snowball effect of information gathering also began in February 2009. I’d emailed an influential local history organisation in Amersham, simply asking if they had anything in their archives about Dr Helen Davidson who was murdered in 1966. This one email, opened on the computer by a lady who knew everybody (and if she didn’t know somebody she’d find somebody who did!) began a seven year friendship. In her first email to me she wrote “Following our meeting last night there were quite a lot of people who knew Dr Davidson, but none there who knew her personally. One person said her parents knew her well as patients, but her father died last year and mother has Alzeimers, but she took your contact details in case she finds any other people of her parents’ generation….I’ll let you know if I hear any helpful information”.
And she did!