- Thursday 13 May 2021
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson has paid tribute to a true community champion, Peter Ryan, 77, of Caloundra, who recently passed away.
Mr Ryan was a founding member and chair of the Sunshine Coast Access Advisory Network for more than a decade, providing a strong voice and advocacy for people with a disability.
Mayor Jamieson acknowledged Mr Ryan’s commitment and determination to the community on many fronts.
“I am very saddened to hear of Peter’s passing and on behalf of our council, express my sincere condolences to his family and friends, including his long-term friend and carer Kay,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Peter provided critical input to many council projects including the Bulcock Street Caloundra streetscape design, on-site testing of Caloundra mobility maps as well as contributing to the development of Council’s Access and Inclusion Action Plan 2011-2016.
“Peter actively participated in the community engagement program to develop the Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019-2041 and also contributed to council’s disaster recovery program as a member of the Local Human and Social Recovery Sub-group.
“He participated in council’s disaster management exercises and provided valuable and practical advice to council’s evacuation centre program to increase accessibility support during disasters. This led to a large number of infrastructure modifications at key venues.
“Just last year Peter was nominated for a Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award in the Senior Citizen of the Year category.
“We cannot thank Peter enough for his contribution to the Sunshine Coast and we hope his actions leave a lasting legacy and continue to inspire others for many years to come.”
In his 2020 Australia Day nomination, Peter Parks wrote of Mr Ryan’s health challenges that led to his life path changing.
“As a bricklayer and builder with his own business, life dramatically changed for Peter in his early 40s when as a consequence of his diabetes, he lost his sight,” Mr Parks said.
“He was sent to Queensland Guide Dogs and was accepted into the program. He left with his dog Virgil who was to be his companion for the next 14 years. He hoped that with his guide dog by his side, he would be able to find work, but found people were very reluctant to give any paid work to someone with a disability.
“He found a calling as a counsellor with Lifeline and spent the next 18 years counselling people on the end of a telephone on a voluntary basis.
“Some of his achievements were not noticed by many without a disability, but for those with a disability, Peter and the team have made a huge difference.
“If we had more individuals with the courage and determination of Peter Ryan, as well as the generosity of spirit, the world would be a much better place.”
Mr Ryan passed away on 3 May after a long illness. A memorial was held today, Thursday 13 May.
Image: Peter Ryan of Caloundra will be sorely missed (taken 2011).