Sir Michael ParkinsonChat show legend
Vale Sir Michael Parkinson, who passed away on 16 August 2023 aged 88. Sir Michael was a passionate supporter of NextSense for more than 40 years. He played an important part in helping to create awareness of our organisation and raise vital funds for our services, including through his role as a NextSense Ambassador, which he took up in 2010.
In 1983, Sir Michael created a mascot for us called “Rockie Woofit”, an Australian version of his successful UK characters “The Woofits”, which featured in his children’s books and television series. For almost 20 years, this name represented one of our preschools at North Rocks in Sydney.
Rockie Woofit Preschool, now NextSense Preschool, holds a very special place in the history of NextSense and opened just four years after the first child in Australia received a cochlear implant, at 10 years of age.
Katie KellyChampion Australian Paratriathlete
Katie Kelly has been raising funds for NextSense (formerly RIDBC) for over 20 years.
Katie was born with moderate hearing loss. In her 20s she was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a degenerative eye sight and hearing condition.
Katie came to compete as a PT5 athlete after she was formally classified in this division in early 2015 when her eyesight had deteriorated to a legally blind status. From February 2015, Katie gained selection on Triathlon Australia’s elite Paratriathlon program. Katie went on to win the Paratriathlon PT5 (Vision Impaired) World Championships in September 2015 and Australia’s first ever Gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics where Paratriathlon made its debut. For both races, Katie had Olympic medallist Michelle Jones as her guide.
Paratriathlon is the newest sport to the Paralympics and consists of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run.
Katie has been actively involved in the sports industry both in her career and pro bono work for over 15 years working with premier Australian companies such as the NRL, ANZ Stadium and Tabcorp. She also worked on contract with the NT Government’s Sport and Recreation.
Katie has a deep commitment to projects that promote healthier lifestyles, particularly access to sports for children with a disability. She would also like to see more progression on the social development of children with a disability in indigenous communities.
Katie is a Board Member of Deaf Sports Australia and is passionate about the delivery of their programs including Active Deaf Kids program. She is also working to set up the ‘Sport Access Foundation’, which will primarily serve to remove any barriers for children with a disability to play sport.