Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Tributes paid to popular Norwich man
Tributes have been paid to a popular Norwich man, who fought for the rights of disabled people, after he died from cancer at the age of 48.
Brendan Carroll, who suffered from cerebral palsy, had lived in Norwich for 20 years and was a keen dancer and worked hard to promote the rights of disabled people.
Mr Carroll, who lived independently for the last few years of his life in Key and Castle Yard, off Oak Street, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus just before Christmas and passed away on April 28 this year.
His sister, Annette Close, 49 cared for him in the last few months of his life at her home in Rochester, Kent and said: “When he was a boy he could do very little for himself so my mum and dad sent him to boarding school when he was eight.
“My mum was criticised for doing it but in actual fact it was a really brave decision because they taught him how to live with his condition and made him more active because he realised the wheelchair wasn't a trap or a prison it was just how he was and he had to accept that.
“We were a bit worried when he said he was moving in on his own because he had so many needs but he was determined and he found a flat and he had two carers who became friends of his.
“Everything he did was a challenge; he couldn't feed or dress himself. When I used to come and stay with him he would take us out and while it might take me 20 minutes to walk down the street, with him it would take hours because people would stop and speak to him; everyone knew him by name.
“He never considered himself to be a disabled person and was so adamant people shouldn't see the disability, just the person.”
Mr Carroll went to boarding school at Infield Manor in West Sussex and on to Beaumont College in Lancashire where he studied sociology and history.
After a stint in Chelmsford he made the decision to live at John Grooms Court on Sprowston Road before he moved into his flat.
He was a “tireless” volunteer at the Vauxhall Centre, at Johnson Place, off Vauxhall Street, near Chapel Field Road, Norwich, and sat on the management committee and trained new volunteers.
He was also chairman of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People and an avid Norwich City fan.
Liza Diaper, 40, is a development worker at the Vauxhall Centre and worked with Mr Carroll for 11 years. She said: “He played a big part in Norwich.
“He did a lot of training with people and helped break down the barriers between able-bodied and disabled people. I think the world would be a better place with more people like Brendan.”
Sophie Wood, 40, from Suffolk, had been his contemporary dance partner for five years and added: “His wheelchair was neither here nor there for him. He was really lovely and really funny and had such a stage presence. He was friendly and thoughtful and good company and we're all really missing him.”
Scores of people turned out for Mr Carroll's funeral, where he was buried in an eco-friendly wicker coffin, which was held in Rochester in Kent on May 6.
Norwich Evening News, 11th May 2009