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Neighbourhood > Guest Character Profiles > Grace Barnett Marijke Mann

Grace Barnett 1986

Grace Barnett grew up in the country, alongside Bill Daniels and Helen Simpson, and the three of them were inseparable as they entered into adulthood. Even when Bill and Helen married, Grace still spent most of her time with them. However, one night when Helen was away visiting family, Bill and Grace spent a drunken night together and Grace, knowing that she could never have Bill for herself or admit her true feelings, left to live in London soon after, with only Helen’s younger sister, Laura, knowing the secret.

Many years later, over ten years after Bill had died, Grace returned to Australia when her mother was taken ill and got in touch with Helen. Helen was thrilled to be able to spend time with Grace, but Laura, who happened to be visiting her sister at the time, was worried. After an awkward visit to Helen’s home in Ramsay Street, Grace agreed to come for dinner the following evening. Meanwhile, Grace’s visit had also caused Helen to start thinking about Bill a lot, so she went to visit his grave and was shocked to find a fresh bouquet of flowers already there, with a note reading ‘To my dearest Bill, with everlasting love’. When she mentioned this at home, Laura immediately knew where the flowers had come from, but tried to change the subject as Helen attempted to place the familiar handwriting. That evening at dinner, Laura found a moment to be alone with Grace and warned her to leave before Helen found out the truth. Grace agreed to think about it but Laura was shocked when Grace then organised to meet Helen for lunch the next day.

Laura decided to catch Grace early at the Waterhole pub and have another try at talking her ‘round. The two women discussed the situation and Grace admitted that she’d been in love with Bill and it had been incredibly painful for her not to be with him for so many years. Laura reminded Grace that Helen didn’t deserve to have her happy memories shattered after all these years, and Grace finally agreed to leave. When Helen arrived at the hotel, she found a note from Grace, explaining that she’d had to return to London suddenly. Helen immediately connected the writing in the letter to that on the bouquet of flowers and, when she told Laura, the awkward silence spoke volumes. Laura was forced to tell her sister everything she knew and a devastated Helen asked her to move out of the house. After a few days, Helen’s family convinced her that Laura wasn’t the person who she should be taking her anger out on, and the sisters made up.

Notes: Marijke Mann guest-starred again in 1993 as Evelyn Marks.

Biography by Steve



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