Many of you will be saddened to hear of the death of Neville Kerr. Neville died peacefully in hospital overnight on 26-27 May, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. Neville was 82 years of age and is survived by his partner, Tricia.
Over many years, Neville was a major contributor to the work of Blind Citizens Australia, beginning in the days when it was the National Federation of Blind Citizens of Australia, and to the Radio for the Print Handicapped movement, particularly through his work with the establishment and ongoing functioning of 3RPH Melbourne.
Neville produced and presented more than 1100 editions of BCA’s weekly radio program, then called Horizons, and was heavily involved with the recording and broadcast production of material from BCA conventions and other major events. In the late 1980s, Neville was a key member of the working party that successfully negotiated the MoU that provided for BCA’s support of the broadcast licence application submitted to the then Australian Broadcasting Authority by the Association for the Blind.
Neville’s involvement with the establishment of Melbourne’s RPH service started in the 1970s, when the blind and vision impaired community first recognised the potential of radio to meet the information needs of the print handicapped community. He was heavily involved with the establishment of 3RPH’s first studios in Prahran and then became a regular program host and presenter. He continued this role on a weekly basis until around 2005.
Neville also served on the board of the Association for the Blind (now Vision Australia) for around five years in the late 80s early 90s. He had a keen interest in music and was an accomplished carpenter.
Above all, Neville recognised that radio could provide access to many forms of information for people who are blind or vision impaired. Neville’s broadcasting style was well ahead of its time, with the provision of descriptive coverage of many major events, including the first illumination of the Melourne Cricket Ground following the installation of lighting towers and the world renowned Christmas window displays at the Myer store in Bourke Street Melbourne. Neville’s foresight and innovation with this form of broadcasting led the way to the provision of Audio Description of Australian Television drama, broadcast by RPH leading to the wider availability of Audio Description in live theatre, galleries and other places of public interest.
While always reluctant to put himself forward as a leader, Neville Kerr’s contribution to improving the lives of Australians who are blind or vision impaired through innovative information provision is without peer.
Neville was recognised for this contribution in 2003 when he was the recipient of BCA’s David Blyth Award. The Award citation reads:
“In recognition of his outstanding contribution as a pioneer in radio for the print handicapped broadcasting and programming; as an innovator in the use of radio to meet the information needs of blind people; and as the producer and host of over 1000 editions of BCAs national weekly radio program Horizons.”
This week’s episode of New Horizons, BCA’s weekly radio program and podcast, will be dedicated to further reflections on Neville Kerr’s life and work. Details about funeral arrangements can be obtained by calling BCA on 1800033660.
On behap of BCA, I offer my deepest sympathies and gratitude to Neville’s family and many friends.