Today we pay tribute to legendary broadcaster, journalist, and author Sir Michael Parkinson, who has passed away, 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.
The issue of hearing loss was also close to Sir Michael's heart—his granddaughter was born profoundly deaf. He was already a supporter of our organisation when his family learned of this, and he reached out to us for support and guidance. His grandparents were also profoundly deaf in their later years.
This personal experience deepened our relationship with him and our association with him was ongoing. Only recently we were in touch with Sir Michael about our new centre for innovation at Macquarie University and our plans for the future.
“Our heartfelt condolences are with Lady Mary Parkinson and the Parkinson family,” NextSense Chief Executive Chris Rehn said.
“Sir Michael’s contribution to journalism, and the media and entertainment industries was immense. We are so very fortunate to have known him and benefited immensely from his unwavering support. He was a wonderful ambassador, supporter and friend.”
NextSense President David Dinte said: “The commitment, energy and compassion shown by Sir Michael in his lifetime will not be forgotten. He was a strong advocate for people with hearing loss, particularly children, and his absence will be felt by many.”