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Primary Education News
News Alison Hunter obituary
My wife, Alison Hunter, who has died of heart failure aged 57, was a remarkable woman from a remarkable family. Alison was a wheelchair user from early childhood who went on to establish a successful career in teaching, to live independently and to marry and have children. She overcame the good intentions as well as the prejudices of the times in which she lived.
When you knew Alison, the wheelchair wasn't there. It vanished in the glow of her vitality, intellect and sense of fun. She was born in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne. In her formative years during the 1960s and 70s, negativity and ignorance surrounding disability were deeply rooted. Her independence, integrity and strength of character rested on the love and determination of her parents, Evelyn and Les, who undertook many battles with medical and local authority services to have their daughter treated as she should be.
Of course, there were champions, such as the visionary paediatrician Christine Cooper and Newcastle local education authority, which was beginning to take the lead in provision for children with disabilities. Alison became a pupil at Pendower special school in Newcastle and later Walbottle high, before training as a teacher at Ponteland College of Education.
In 1977 Alison began teaching in Newcastle, at Broadwood junior school and later Atkinson Road primary, where she married the boss (that was me). As a teacher, she was exceptional. She was simply a "natural" who knew her children inside out and made learning exciting as well as relevant. As a wheelchair user, she demonstrated every day to children and colleagues that everyone could succeed – with the right attitude, determination and a little consideration.
Alison was employed by the local authority and universities as an exemplary practitioner and expert in the education of young children. She was a wonderful example to all and a true intellectual unafraid of challenging the status quo.
In her life she achieved so much, often in the face of harsh challenges. The death of our daughter, stillborn 20 years ago, left a deep wound. But the pleasure of her friends and family, our life in the village of Stamfordham in rural Northumberland, and the joy of raising our son, Josh, made it all worthwhile.
She is survived by me, Josh, her parents and her sister, Lesley.