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Obituary - Anne Conway


IT IS with great sadness that Canine Partners record the death, after a short illness, of our co-founder, Anne Conway, aged 74, on 20th May.

Anne had previously been involved with the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Pro-Dogs when, in 1988, she met with vet, Liz Ormerod and occupational therapist, Nicky Pendleton (the current chairman), to discuss the ways in which dogs could be used as assistance dogs for wheelchair users. Anne funded a short fact-finding visit to Holland where similar work was being done by the SoHo charity and thus her vision began to take shape.

We owe her a great debt of gratitude for her enthusiasm, dedication and sheer tenacity for her efforts in getting Canine Partners started, with much of the early work being done from her own home. She had a gift for finding talented people with the right knowledge and expertise to work with her in setting up the charity. She worked tirelessly to achieve her aims and was rewarded when the charity was officially formed in 1990.

Anne devoted many years to the charity and took enormous pleasure in seeing the many successful partnerships of our dogs and their human partners, particularly relishing the wonderful bond which is formed between dog and human. Anne was enthusiastic in ensuring that the needs of both the dog and the disabled partner were fully recognised in order that both canine and human partner enjoyed the best possible quality of life together. She played a vital role on our Dog Welfare panel and her careful research and attention to detail ensured that the care of our dogs was always given top priority.

Anne was a remarkable lady who gave much of her love of animals to the dog world. Apart from her work for Canine Partners, she used her own rescued cockers to demonstrate the work Hearing Dogs could do. She supported Pro-Dogs, raising the profile of companion dogs throughout the world and she was very active in local Cocker Spaniel Rescue. More recently, she was working with Liz Ormerod on human/animal bond issues. At the time of her death, she was involved in a campaign to support local council flat tenants who were challenging Portsmouth Council over their policy restricting pet ownership. She remained devoted to her rescued cocker, Amber (pictured below with Anne and Allen Parton and Endal), whose confidence Anne had gently restored. She was delighted when Amber was successfully shown at a Canine Partners companion dog show recently, being placed in her class. Anne’s love of animals was widespread, one of her friends told me that she frequently cared for local swans near her Emsworth home, and if she saw a bird in difficulties on the water, she had been known to either row or wade out to give assistance.

Anne recently retired from her position on the Trustee Council, saying that she felt the charity was on the right track and was in safe hands. However, she agreed to continue as an advisor to the Dog Welfare panel. At the 2004 AGM, Anne accepted the Council’s invitation to become a vice-president in recognition of her enormous contribution to the charity. Everyone at the charity was delighted when she was nominated for a Lifetime Achievement award at the last Golden Bone award ceremony, a recognition which was very well deserved. Canine Partners and all the people who have benefitted from the work of our trained dogs, are truly indebted to her for her inspiration and guidance through the years. We will continue to strive to maintain the very high standards she set and we are proud that we could share the vision of this most remarkable woman. She will be very sadly missed.Her funeral was held at Chichester crematorium on Monday 7th June.

Jo Coulson