The love story of Alice Sevier and Roy Helmer

Alice Sevier was born in the beautiful city of St Petersburg in the late 1800s. Although Russian citizens, Alice and her eight siblings spent their childhood summers visiting their paternal uncle, who worked as a doctor in a small town in County Durham, called Barnard Castle.

               Young Alice and a group picture of her family


It was here in Barnard Castle that Alice met her future-husband, Latvian-born Roy Helmer, when they were just fifteen years old. Childhood sweethearts, Alice and Roy spent their summer days playing tennis together in the grounds of the ruined Castle.

HELMER (SEVIER) (Jennifer Sterland) - Alice photo seated
Young Alice Sevier

However, the outbreak of the Great War changed everything. Alice and her sister Mary joined the Russian Red Cross and were posted back to their home country, to serve on the Russian Front.


Roy enlisted immediately and served with the 45th Infantry Brigade and later the 15th Artillery. He managed to escape the war unscathed but Alice wasn’t so lucky.

HELMER (Jennifer Sterland) - Roy photo uniform railway station 1 low rez
Roy Helmer 

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Alice and her family attempted to flee a terrifyingly dangerous Russia but were captured by the Germans. The Seviers were detained in Prisoner of War camps in Germany and Alice thought she would never see her sweetheart again.

However, fate was on her side, in 1918 Alice and her sister, Olga were exchanged for two German Prisoners of war, and were returned to the safety of England.

It was back here in Barnard Castle that Roy and Alice met again after been separated for so many years. They later married and lived happily together for the rest of their days.

HELMER (Jennifer Sterland) - Roy wedding photo uniform with Alice

The WWI separated many families and friends, but we love to know that there was life after the war and people like Alice Sevier and Roy Helmer found love and built a new life for themselves in Teesdale.

If you want to find out more about other people from Teesdale and their stories, visit our WWI: ‘To Serve King and Country’ Exploring the Role of Teesdale in the First World War exhibition, open until 3 of March 2019. 


With thanks to Phoebe Fenton.

7 thoughts on “The love story of Alice Sevier and Roy Helmer

  1. Thought you might like to know that at the bottom the ad for your ad supported blog had a photo of Trump. Not something I want to see associated with your fine publication and I think you would not either. He is such a terrible person and a stain on America. FYI I am an American. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for notifying us on this, we were not aware. It must be something to do with WordPress as we are not involved in politics or would ever support that. We’ll have a look into it. Thank you 🙂


  2. I enjoyed reading this article, I am writing just to say the title name is incorrect. Through my own family research and from the first sentence I can confirm that it is Alice Sevier and not Aliver.
    Eve Patterson


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