Death of Leicester member Dick Gays

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Aug 122013

We are deeply sorry to have to report the death of Richard Gays, member of the Leicester and Rutland panel. Very sadly, Dick died on 30 July of a stroke. Our heartfelt condolences have been sent to his widow, Margaret. His funeral is on 13 August.

Delegates to the AGM on 6 July will remember that Dick was there to collect, from Professor Heinz Wolff, the First Prize of the Remap Awards, for a marvellous adaptation of a bike for a little girl. It was his fourth award in eight years of service.

Dick Gays AGM 2013

Dick was liked and admired by all who encountered him, and his panel colleagues have paid this special tribute to him.

“Dick Gays joined the Leicestershire and Rutland panel in 2005, because, as he said, "I liked to make model engines but once I’d got them working they just sat on a shelf and gathered dust.  So I thought I’d do something more useful".  He had a very well equipped workshop and specialized in making the larger metal devices, which were so well designed and finished they were often mistaken for commercial products.  He could also turn his hand to more intricate work and was adept on his industrial sewing machine, where he made parachutes of unusual designs;  before swopping jumping out of airplanes for helping local disabled people.

Over his eight years of service to Remap Dick completed around 120 jobs.  Not content just to design and make innovative equipment, he also motivated his panel into an ongoing publicity drive, which resulted in a 40% increase in the number of referrals over a two year period. 

Dick was never one for a lot of talking and procrastination, he just wanted to get things done.  So it was perhaps surprising that he made such a good public speaker at the many presentations he gave about the work of Remap.  His presentations to any group of people who were prepared to listen, were always well received and often a sizeable donation followed.  He was extremely modest and never told an audience that many of the devices he talked about were of his making.  He also seemed a little embarrassed when people praised his work.  He was often heard saying that he got as much out of making the equipment as the disabled person did using it.

To say that we will miss him is a gross understatement.”

Guy de Visme

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Apr 022012

Steve Bloor writes:

It is with regret that we must inform members of the death of Dr Guy de Visme at the age of 89.

Guy joined Mid Staffordshire Remap as an engineer in 1987 in its inaugural year.

In 1994 he became the panel’s Engineering Co-ordinator and carried out this duty with great care and understanding of people’s needs and simple solutions to their problems.

In 1997 he took on the Chairmanship until 2010 when he retired due to age and health problems. However, he still co-ordinated the engineers.

A truly remarkable man, Guy joined the RAF retiring as Squadron Leader and commenced an academic career at UMIST then Mid Staffs College

He was a true polyglot, a published writer, county chess and squash player and he sadly died before completing yet another degree, this time in Higher Maths.

One of the last gentlemen, his quiet but searching mind will be a loss to all his many friends and the scores of people he helped through REMAP

John Carpenter MBE

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Nov 182011

John Carpenter, who died on 11th October, was a staunch friend and supporter of Remap for over 25 years. He was at first a member of the Berkshire Panel from about 1983, becoming its Secretary in 1985 and then its Chairman from 1988 to 1995. He became a Trustee and member of the National Committee in 1991, when Remap was in the process of separating from RADAR and setting out as an independent Charity. In 1994 he was elected to the post of Vice-Chairman and he served as Acting Chairman in 1997, when Percy Hammond had to step down for family reasons. He continued as Vice-Chairman after I took the Chair and he continued in that role for several years. He retired as a Trustee in 2004, when he and Vera moved to Falmouth to live near their son. The Trustees were pleased to make him a Vice-President in recognition of his long service.

John’s service to Remap did not cease with his move to Falmouth. He joined the Cornwall Panel and worked with them for several more years. He also continued to participate in the judging of the annual Remap Awards and would travel to London for the meeting of the judging panel, until the journey became too difficult for him. His keen interest in the Awards was demonstrated by his creation of the Carpenter Award, for an entry that showed both ingenuity and simplicity. He would make special efforts to attend the AGM and congratulate the prize-winners.

John was a much respected member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and did much to encourage Institution members to be aware of, and to join, Remap. His own professional career had been in the Defence Research organisations, where he had done some very secret and highly important development work on weaponry. He once told me of an elegantly simple device which his team had produced, that was to be vital to the world’s most sophisticated weapons. This same acclaim for simple ingenuity and elegance in mechanical devices showed in his work for Remap, for purposes that were entirely peaceful. John’s work perhaps epitomised the old adage of beating swords into ploughshares.

John was awarded the MBE in the 2007 Birthday Honours, ‘for services to disabled people in Berkshire, Cornwall and nationally’. He was proud of this recognition, for Remap rather than for himself. He was a gentle peaceful man, devoted to the cause of Remap and all that it stands for. His death deprives us of an intimate link with Remap’s past and its growing pains as an independent body. It also deprives many of us of a good and valued friend.

Tony Shipley – past Chairman, Remap.

John Carpenter MBE

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Oct 122011

We have just heard of the sad death of John Carpenter MBE, vice-President of Remap. More will be posted here about this shortly, but we wanted to let members know that his funeral will take place at Truro Crematorium next Tuesday, 18 October, at 12.30.

Frank Shipperley

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Sep 212011

(posted by Susan Iwanek)


I just heard today that Frank Shipperley, a member of the Southend panel, has died after a spell in hospital. This is very sad news indeed; Frank, at one time the chief engineer on an aircraft carrier,  will be very much missed by those who knew him: most especially his panel colleagues, but also everyone else who encountered him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Frank while I was collecting case studies for the 2008 annual review. I went with him to visit Linda, a client with cerebral palsy for whom he was making a device to enable her to take pills during the night.  The device was unique and ingenious, but what impressed me even more about Frank was his extraordinary social skills with severely disabled people. He had a marvellously easy manner with them; Linda howled with laughter at his jokes, and clearly enjoyed his company as well as the help he so freely gave her. He told me afterwards that he felt huge sympathy for her situation, but would never having dreamed of letting her know this; he knew too well she would not have thanked him. Frank really did represent the very best of Remap.

Our condolences go to his widow, Wendy.

Frank Devine

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Jun 152010

I was very sorry to learn just before the weekend of the death on June 11 of Frank Devine, the chairman of the Doncaster panel. Frank was an immensely hard worker, utterly committed to the Remap cause and had a delightfully dry sense of humour. He will be greatly missed, I know.

George Court 1918 – 2009

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May 052010




With a membership which includes a number of aged engineers it is inevitable that we lose some.  Few however can match the record of George Court of my own South Herts Panel who died on the 27th of Dec 2009.

George trained and worked throughout his life as a mechanical engineer and designer. In his house was the drawing he did as a junior engineer for a Belling Lee electric fire – the production model of which still worked in his fireplace. He joined Remap some 20 years ago in the late 80’s after his wife died. For some years he had been using his engineering skills to make devices to make her life easier and her Occupational Therapist suggested that George join Remap to allow others to benefit from his ability. I am very grateful she gave him that simple piece of advice and that he took it.

George was a tireless champion for Remap.  An active member of many clubs and organisations as well as his local church George was always telling others about Remap and recruiting both new members and new clients.

One of George’s major projects in 1999 was in the manufacture of a motorised chair/bed for John Prestwich, a polio victim. As John later said of George and his co-workers “I shall never, ever be able to repay them all for giving me such a feeling of liberty. I can often be heard to say the following – “Technology has liberated me from the prison of dependency to which polio condemned me.” And how true that is! “

George carried out hundreds of jobs for Remap ranging from the simple to the very complex. There are numerous stairs in Hertfordshire protected by various innovative designs of stair gate made by George. He made furniture of her size (and matching the design her parents had) for a young girl with restricted growth and any number of chair raisers, window opening aids and complex ramps. The last task he completed was in November and he was then I believe the oldest active member of Remap in the UK. He meticulously documented each job he did and submitted neat comprehensive handwritten notes on every task. Although a natural organiser George had no interest in running anything. He simply got on, very quietly, with solving problems and making things.

At some point he had obviously decided age was no longer relevant so he ignored it. Last winter he asked for my help in making a ramp for a local resident who was in Georges words “getting on a bit and finding it difficult to get out”. The client who was “getting on a bit” was actually young enough to be George’s son and I still have the photographs I took of George in his “work” clothes (a terrifying sight in its own right) happily wielding a power saw while building the ramp for the “elderly” client. His approach to technology was similarly enthusiastic. Unfortunately we never got around to installing the computer he wanted because he thought “it time he learned a bit more about the Internet”. However, he helped produce a web site dedicated to the poems and life of his sister who died in 1927 and was an enthusiastic user of e-mail albeit by the slightly eccentric method of writing his messages by hand and giving them to me to send on his behalf.  Georges writing and his sister’s work can be found at

As a devoted proponent of Remap for many years George carried his Remap slide show to clubs and organisations throughout the county to explain what we did. In the last few years he accompanied me to many more such presentations, the last being on the 10th of November in the theatre opposite his Church.

In many of my presentations I commented about Remap members love of “skip diving” – extracting useful scrap from skips – and invariably George would proclaim with some dudgeon that he had never been in a skip in his life. Unfortunately he broke that record last summer when he saw a particularly useful bit of aluminium he needed for a project in a skip up on a local industrial estate. The look on the security guards face as he came out to apprehend the miscreant only to find a skinny pair of legs attached to George, aged 90 sticking out of the skip as he retrieved his piece of metal was unrepeatable. Shaking his head in disbelief he made his way back in to his office without a word leaving a grinning George in uncontested possession of his goodies.

George was unusual in that he didn’t say much – he just did it. He didn’t talk about how things should be done – he just did them. He didn’t aspire to run things, he did them. His influence for good was not in what he said but what he did. In going around the county giving presentations to various groups it didn’t matter where we went, no matter how remote the village or obscure the group someone would invariably say “Hello George” as we walked through the door. In any collection of people mentioning Remap was invariably followed by “Ah – you must know George then”. For someone with no ambition for any form of position of authority and who had no public presence that was a remarkable achievement and testament to the vast amount of work he so tirelessly did and the high regard in which so many held him

He was deeply committed to his church but unlike many he showed that commitment not by empty words but by quiet deeds. He did not follow his faith – he gently lived it every day in everything he did. At his funeral were many who at some time had been recipients of George’s quiet unassuming and selfless generosity. He did not read the parable of the Good Samaritan; he lived it every minute of every day in what he did for others.

He helped me considerably, firstly by encouraging me to become secretary and later chairman of the South Herts Panel (anyone who has been subject to Georges “encouragement” would know how irresistible it could be!) and later to become a trustee and subsequently chairman of Remap nationally.

Secondly he helped with his amazing ability to organise. Writing this I realise how much I will miss that ability. Whenever I needed dates, numbers or references a call to George and a look through his tidy filing system would produce them faster than any computer. I know somewhere George will have kept not only a record of how many presentations on Remap we did in the last 5 years but where they were, the date and how many people attended each. He collected facts as some collect stamps.

One of the pleasures he got from doing jobs for Remap was the avenue it gave him to “recycle”. Long before it became fashionable George was recycling everything in sight. His diaries were invariably from the 1960’s and 70’s, as he had discovered there are only 14 possible calendars so with careful choice the dates and days in past calendars repeated in the current year. For those who did not know this they could get quite disconcerted when they saw this elderly gentleman meticulously recording a future meeting date in a 1974 diary.

Similarly for each Remap project he could give you a list of the other projects each component had been used in previously. Any request for an item by another Remap member would invariably lead to George not only saying he had it in his “stock” but finding it within a very short time.

We will miss his friendship, loyalty and quiet good humour. He was a good man.

Peter Parry.