Gill Pearl and Speakeasy joint recipients of The 2015 Robin Tavistock Award

The Trustees of the Tavistock trust for Aphasia are delighted to announce that the recipients of The Robin Tavistock Award 2015 are Gill Pearl and Bury Speakeasy. The Robin Tavistock Award is presented annually to an individual, or group, who is inspirational and who has made a significant contribution in the field of aphasia. 2015 marks the 10th year of the Robin Tavistock Award, and it is the first time a joint award has been given.
Bury Speakeasy stands as a beacon in the North West; it offers one of the few places in the North dedicated to long-term support for people with aphasia. Speakeasy celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. During that time it has always striven to be forward thinking and pioneering, not only offering individuals support, but also forging new ways of promoting purposeful activity and community participation. Speakeasy was one of the first organisations to develop the use of computers for therapy as well as other innovative group activities.

Whilst the Trustees understand that it was Stephanie Holland who founded Speakeasy in 1985, and who still plays a valuable role as a Trustee, the Trustees recognise that Gill Pearl has been a driving force in its survival and has helped to shape and ensure its invaluable contribution over the last 14 years. It is partly for that reason that the Trustees have wanted to honour Gill Pearl alongside, and yet separately from, Speakeasy – for her own outstanding contribution to aphasia in this country.

Gill has that special gift of being visionary, someone who will often think in inventive ways, and yet nonetheless is rooted in practical reality. Critically, Gill has the person with aphasia always at the heart of everything she does. Listening to, and caring for people with aphasia, is her constant motivation. As a result Gill has been one of the key trailblazers with regard to the long-term support of people with aphasia, as well as fighting for the greater involvement of people with aphasia in research.

Significantly, although Gill can be said to have become almost synonymous with Speakeasy, she has always been involved in numerous projects, both before and during her time with Speakeasy. Both in her clinical practice and her research, the focus has always been on improving the quality of life of those affected by aphasia, particularly by promoting purposeful integration within the community. Everything Gill does she has done with a dogged determination, clarity of purpose, practical common sense and with a great sense of humour.

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia’s criteria for this award are ‘inspirational’ and ‘making a significant difference’ and they fit both Gill Pearl and Bury Speakeasy perfectly