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Victorian deafblind champion wins BrainLink Women of Achievement Award

Victorian deafblind champion wins BrainLink Women of Achievement Award

An Ashwood woman who has overcome a lifetime of adversity has today won the 2013 BrainLink Women of Achievement Award.

Trudy Ryall was born deaf, is legally blind, and suffered meningitis as an infant, but has met these challenges head on to become a champion for the deaf and blind community and has dedicated her life to numerous advocacy and support groups.

Ms Ryall was judged winner of the award ahead of two other finalists – Jenny Howell- Clark, a Melton mum who founded the adult make-a-wish organisation The Orange Pigeon, and Natalie Houghton, a Barwon Heads activist who promotes humane education.

The award winner was announced to more than 300 guests at the BrainLink Women of Achievement Award lunch at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne today.

Ms Ryall, 48, was recognised for being an inspiration to others as co-founder of advocacy group Deafblind Victorians and in key advisory roles with the national Let’s Connect project for deaf/blind people, the Victorian Deaf Society, Vision Australia and the Women with Disabilities program.

She was an adviser to the Federal Government on the development of its National Disability Insurance Scheme and also worked with Brimbank Council on the Leaders of Tomorrow Program.

Despite her disabilities, Ms Ryall completed high school, became a library technician, undertook several other courses and also became a puppy trainer for Australian Customs. Her own assistance dog, six-year-old Tyson, was one who failed to graduate.

On receiving the award Ms Ryall said she was greatly honoured, and that the award meant a lot not only for her, but for everyone who had battled against the odds at some stage of life.

“This award is for everyone with a disability, be they deaf or blind, or people with any other disabilities, such as acquired brain injuries,” Ms Ryall said.

“I’ve worked with a lot of people and we’ve fought for equality.

“While we have made some great strides, there is still a lot of work to do. This award is a nice recognition of what we have achieved so far.”

BrainLink chief executive officer Sharon Strugnell said that Ms Ryall is a worthy recipient of the Women of Achievement Award as she personified the nature of the award, in going above and beyond expectations to help others.

“Trudy demonstrates strength, courage and persistence that is simply amazing in the face of challenges most people never experience,” Ms Strugnell said.

“Her work with, and for, other people in the community is admirable and she takes every opportunity with both hands. As such, Trudy is very worthwhile winner of the Women of Achievement Award.”

The award, now in its 16th year, offers a unique opportunity to acknowledge and encourage Victorian women as leaders with outstanding outcomes, usually in an area of endeavour not often recognised by other women’s business awards.

The award has gained considerable prestige amongst women in management, the scientific and medical world, the arts, and women who hold multi- dimensional roles in the community. After a process of public nomination, three finalists were selected from which one winner was chosen.

To qualify for the award, finalists need to be multi-dimensional, display creativity and innovation, commitment and achievement, fulfil a mentoring role and contribute to the community. They also must reside in Victoria and be nominated by a family member, friend or colleague.
Previous winners include brain injury survivor and ambassador Dr Christine Durham, Lighthouse Foundation founder Susan Barton, stem-cell researcher Dr Orly Lacham-Kaplan, and founder of the Butterfly Foundation, Claire Vickery.

For further information, contact:
James Aanensen
Mobile: 0410 518 590
Jim Robb
Mobile: 0413 833 985