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Tribute to Anne Bray

Friday 20th June 2008

Tribute to Anne Bray

"To Anne’s daughter Pip, her son Michael, and her 5 grandchildren of whom she was so proud, and also to Anne’s sister Rosemary and her friends, colleagues and students– let me say how sorry I was to hear of Anne’s death. She will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her and benefited from her generosity of spirit. And the passion and influence she has directed towards improving life for people with an intellectual disability and their families will also leave a huge hole," said Ruth Dyson, Minister for Disability Issues.

"Throughout her life Anne has been a passionate advocate for people with an intellectual disability. She always said that her inspiration came from her late mother and father, May and Frank, and her brother Michael. Michael lived at home at a time when children with Down syndrome like Michael were expected to live in institutions. And he went to his local school just like everyone else in the area – another thing that was quite uncommon for the time. The Sucklings expected Michael to have the same ordinary life as his siblings, extraordinary though that was!

"So Anne had a wonderful piece of action research right there as she was growing up – maybe that’s why she became a prolific researcher in her life, to show people just what was possible.

"Anne is best known to many people for her years as Director of the Donald Beasley Institute, a disability research centre in Dunedin. Anne came to Dunedin from Christchurch in 1978 to take up a teaching position at the University of Otago. In 1984 she became the Donald Beasley Institutes first Director, a position she stayed in until July 2007, when she handed the reins to her colleague Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch and stepped into a less demanding role as the Institute’s Professorial Research Fellow.

"Anne was also an Associate Research Professor at the University of Otago. Over the years she and the Donald Beasley Institute have developed a real partnership with both Otago University and also Massey University. Anne’s real love and focus in the last few years of her life has been her post-graduate students. Anyone who was interested in people with an intellectual disability and their families Anne was prepared to help, and she has taken a disability focus into all sorts of areas on this basis, breaking some of the barriers to having disability issues dealt with in the mainstream of life.

"Anne’s cancer was first discovered just over three years ago (April 2005). Since that time she has continued to work – its really only been since earlier this year that Anne has not been able to contribute so much.

"Earlier Anne was Associate Dean, Health Science at the University of Otago. She has been, amongst other things, a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, the Otago Area Health Board for twenty years, the Research Advisory Committee on Health and Disability Service Ethics, and the National Ethics Committee.

"In the last few years Anne’s contributions have been recognised by a number of awards. In 2006 Anne became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Also in that year she was voted the Otago University Lecturer of the Year. And in 2007 Anne was made a Fellow of the Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability.

"Anne lived in a house at Port Chalmers overlooking the sea, and this is where she will be buried. Go in peace, Anne," said Ms Dyson.


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