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The Trust's beginnings

The New Zealand Spinal Trust was founded by the late Professor Alan Clarke (1932-2007)


The New Zealand Spinal Trust was founded by the late Professor Alan Clarke (1932-2007)

At the time, he was Dean of the Christchurch School of Medicine. During his stay in the Burwood Spinal unit, he discovered rehabilitation as he had never understood it before …. that the severely under-resourced rehabilitation process was a low priority within the health sector.

In 1994, with some persuasion from Christine Smith, General Manager of Burwood Hospital, Professor Clarke gave up his Deanship to become Director of the Burwood Spinal Unit, and that same year, established the New Zealand Spinal Trust. Christine was the first chair of the Trust; Alan the first executive director.

Prior to 2014, the formerly known Allan Bean Centre for Research and Learning was the home of the New Zealand Spinal Trust, which stood as a testament to a man who believed that successful rehabilitation is hard work, involves personal learning, and is the responsibility of the recovering person.

The Trust undertook fundraising for projects which delivered information, research in rehabilitation and support for independent living. During the next ten years the Trust evolved its positive philosophy: “It’s great to be alive” and a vision that one day society will forsake its preoccupation with disability and better understand human diversity, with the result that no human being is regarded as “damaged” or is patronised.

The Trust’s immediate mission has always been to improve the quality of rehabilitation and independent living of all recovering people through disciplined research.

Over 2.5 million dollars was raised for a variety of projects. The Allan Bean Centre, the largest of these projects, was fully staffed for its role in providing high quality information to recovering people, their families and their health professionals, both on the Burwood campus and in the community.

Sadly in 2015, the Allan Bean Centre was demolished due to the Christchurch earthquakes. However, we are still based at Burwood Hospital and continue to provide our three key services:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation (formerly known as Kaleidoscope) return to work programme.
  • Peer & Family Support programme (formerly known as Connecting People)
  • Resource Centre (previously known as the Allan Bean Centre Library
  • Burwood Volunteer Service
  • The Spinal Network News magazine.