1. ITV Report

Human rights activist Helen Bamber dies aged 89

Human rights activist Helen Bamber has died, aged 89. Photo: Helen Bamber Foundation/PA Wire

Human rights activist and founding member of Amnesty International Helen Bamber has died, the Helen Bamber Foundation has announced.

Leading charity figures and stars including Colin Firth and Emma Thompson have paid tribute to the "human rights icon".

The 89-year-old began her work when she was just 20 years old, with survivors of the Holocaust - helping tens of thousands of men, women and children confront the horror and brutality of the camps.

Firth said his encounter with Bamber was "life-changing" and the compassion she showed touched him for life.

Colin Firth paid tribute to human rights activist Helen Bamber. Credit: Justin Tallis/PA

Her aim in life was to heal people whose damage was profound and seemingly intractable...Her courage, wisdom and pragmatism were formidable – and what she did worked. But ultimately it was her compassion which one felt the most.

– Colin Firth

Helen Bamber's career spanned more than 70 years and in 1997 she was awarded an OBE. In 2005 she created the Helen Bamber Foundation which provides practical support to survivors of human rights violations and in 2011 she was named one of the world's Top 100 women.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (left) talks with Helen Bamber and actress Emma Thompson (right) in 2007. Credit: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire

Actress Emma Thompson, who is the President of the Helen Bamber Foundation said: "Not only is she a great listener and an incredible interpreter, but she never lets her imagination run dry. She resists institutionalism. She knows which borders should be crossed and melds them together."