Peggy Freeman: your tributes

Tributes to Peggy Freeman MBE, who sadly passed away on 15 September 2012, following a short illness. Peggy was one of the parents who co-founded the National Deafblind and Rubella Association in 1955, the organisation which later became the charity Sense. 

Sheila Anderson (nee Witt)

I have known Peggy for many years since about 1954 because my late mother also had rubella got together with Peggy and a few other mothers and they foundered the National Deaf Blind Association.  I also got to know her family as Bunty is the youngest.  Peggy has done an amazing job in helping deafblind people because of her experience of her deafblind daughter.  I am so pleased Bunty is settled in a Sense home in Birmingham for the rest of her life which is peace of mind for the family.

Geoffrey Atieli, Regional Director,  Sense International East Africa

Peggy will be sadly missed. I met her in Canada at a Dbi conference, and felt in the atmosphere the indebtedness to Peggy that the participants in that room must have experienced in her presence. She was so humble, diminutive, and yet so great. I wish her family the strength to bear the loss.

Cristiana Salomie and Team, Regional Director, Sense International Romania

We are sad to hear that Peggy Freeman, MBE, has passed away after a lifelong struggle to improve services for deafblind people in her country and not only.
Being in Canada for a DbI Conference together with the President of the Parents Association in Romania, we had a big chance to meet this extraordinary woman and listen to her fantastic story. At the end of the meeting she offered us “Good Sense A History of Peggy Freeman, MBE, Founder Member.” The book is the history of 40 years of the growth of Sense as perceived by a founder member and it has been shared with many parents here who have learned so much by reading it!
May her soul rest in peace! 

Akhil Paul, Regional Director, Sense International India

It is sad to learn about the passing away of Peggy, who worked with Margret Brock to initiate needs-based services for rubella babies and who had been one of the pillars on which deafblind services were built more than half a century back! We owe a great deal to Peggy for being the person she had been because she led us all into the lives of deafblind people. 
I have been fortunate enough to have met Peggy couple of times in the last 15 years and I still cherish her book The Deafblind Baby and the manner she explains complex process to the reader. 
No doubt that with Peggy’s demise an era in deafblind education has ended and I extend my deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. 
May her soul rest in Peace!

Marie Langford Whitfield, Deputy Manager Grove Road, Birmingham

I am honored that i got to meet Mrs Freeman on visits with her daughter over the years, She gave me so much encouragement as a support worker. I will miss our chats on the phone and stories of her life over a cup of tea and sandwich, an inspirational lady that has and will always inspire me in my life.... and work at Sense. 

Ruth Luck

So true Marie it won't be the same with no trips up the m42 every month she mad us all feel like part of the family rip mrs freeman xxx

James Wright

I was lucky enough to do the London marathon in aid of sense a few years ago, and felt privileged to do so I hope the great work will continue, with extra effort in Peggy freeman's name RIP x

Jo Reilly Marie

I never met Peggy in person but everyone at work spoke so highly of her and loved their trips to visit for sandwiches and chats! Such an inspirational woman that made a difference to so many peoples' lives!

Graciela Ferioli

This is a really a deep and sad news for all of us who has the plesure to meet Peggy and read her book that also one was available in Spanish.  She brought her voice at world level not just for parents but also for professionals.

Please send our recognition to her children for the lovely, commitment, strong woman that was her mom.

Jacques Souriau

She was an incredible woman. 

Joff McGill

What a life lived. If you had told Peggy in 1955 what Sense was to become I doubt she would have believed you, but her vision, hard work and commitment over a lifetime made it all possible.
I have heard so many families describe how visits from Peggy, and the support they got from sharing information and experiences, made such a difference. 
All my thoughts are with Peggy's family.

Bhushan Punani, Executive Director, Blind People's Association

I am truly shocked to learn about sudden demise of Peggy Freeman. I pray to Almighty to grant peace to the departed soul.
Peggy would always to known for great initiatives on promoting services for persons with deafblindness. She also made significant contribution towards development of Deafblind International. She will always remembered by all her friends, well wishers and admirers for her most outstanding services in the field of deafblindness.
In Prayer,
Bushan Punani

Duncan Tannahill, Trustee of Sense and Sense Scotland

I never met Peggy in person but am well aware of her amazing legacy to the world of deafblind people. Her passing is not only a sad loss to her family and friends but it is also a loss to Sense and the whole Sense family.  Without the likes of Peggy there would have been no Sense and our deafblind community would have been the poorer for that.  As I said, I never met Peggy in person but her legacy is something I value and cherish.  My thought and prayers are with the family at this time.

Pamela Ryan, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

I never met Peggy Freeman, but her book and her dedication to her daughter, Bunty, guided my early career in deafblindness. Peggy’s compassionate words and keen intellect about teaching as expressed in her book about Bunty as well as  in countless articles over the years, helped form ideas and teaching strategies for children with Congenital Rubella Syndrome. Mrs. Freeman’s  words helped me with the students I was responsible for in my early days at the Perkins School for the Blind and at this sad time, I am sending my long belated “thank you”. She will be missed by those who had the privilege of working directly with her and those of us who were in the periphery.

Koh Poh Kwang, Principal of Lighthouse School, Singapore

Although I did not have the opportunity to meet this wonderful lady, Mrs Peggy Freeman, in person, I'm full of praise for her great initiative in helping to found the National Deafblind & Rubella Association, which has grown into a huge charity, Sense. So, over these 57 years, she must have made great sacrifices and contributions to what Sense is today. With Sense having an important place on our world map making remarkable contributions to the welfare and education of our deafblind friends, great credit is due to her, on whom she was conferred the title MBE, which is a prestigious award in recognition of her commendable contributions. I take my hat off & salute her for all that she had done throughout the prime of her life.

Gillian Wood, Sense Trustee

I had the very great privilege of meeting Peggy on several occasions and was deeply honoured to be nominated by her for my return to Council.  One occasion we met was a European family conference in Kosice, Slovakia and it was only then that I realised the wider impact Peggy had made on the deafblind world – she was referred to as ‘The Grandmother’ of deafblind people.  A remarkable lady!

Stan Munroe, DbI Information Officer, Canadian Deafblind Association

Peggy Freeman was the inspiration for the founding of the Canadian Deafblind and Rubella Association (now called Canadian Deafblind  Association) back in 1975. Through her correspondence with some Canadian parents, many who also had children with Rubella Syndrome, our organization was developed. Peggy, along with husband Peter, came to Canada in 1983 to address our first National Conference on Deafblindness in Brantford Ontario.
Personally I met Peggy on numerous occasions at World Conferences. She was always that great inspiration for parents to keep going; serve our children to the best of our ability and through that serve the next generation of children with this disability.
The world of deafblindness is a lesser place without Peggy Freeman.

Marylin Kilsby, member of Sense HSI UK

I remember Peggy from the DbI conference in Canada and from other occasions, too.  She was a lovely lady, whose fragile size belied a strong character.  "Steel" comes to mind, in the sense of strength and overcoming, not in the sense of hardness.

Gini Bartlett

I have known Peggy for about forty seven years, ever since I got in touch with the Rubella Group after my son Ian Cloke was born deafblind as a result of Rubella during my pregnancy.  
Peggy was very helpful and understanding of all the emotions, difficulties and problems that Ian’s father and I went through during Ian’s early years at a time when people were very unaware of the devastating effects of Rubella.
Of course we were by no means the only family that Peggy supported. I can’t imagine how we would all have coped without her and the other people involved like Margaret Brock. 
Ian has been living in a Sense home since 1988, and I have got to know Peggy very well over the years, being involved in Sense in various ways and being with her at International Conferences and other events. 
In recent years I have been to see her at home regularly when we would talk about Bunty and Ian, and reminisce about Sense, and places we had both been to and people we knew. And we often went out for lunch together.
I will really miss those lovely days we shared and Peggy was such a good friend. I will often think of her. 

Ginny Matthew, Sense Children's Specialist Services

I was lucky enough to have met Peggy once when she visited the Manor House where I worked, not that long ago. 

As we were introduced she was surprised that I knew who she was and when I mentioned how much her books had taught me she was equally surprised that anyone was still reading them; she didn’t seem to think she’d done anything exceptional at all. 

Unfortunately it was a very brief visit as she had a busy schedule so I didn’t have the chance to chat for long.  She will be an impossible act to follow but such an inspiring lady.

Samantha Poxon

I had the pleasure of meeting Peggy when I began supporting Bunty in 2003. She was such a lovely woman with a vast amount of knowledge to pass on to everyone. Bunty's staff team and I were amazed how she travelled to Australia for half of the year every year into her 90's. We all really enjoyed visiting her in her home in Nottingham and seeing her face light up when she saw Bunty. Peggy would tell us of the terrible ordeals Bunty had gone through such as having needles put in her eyes by doctors to let the light in as in those days CRS was not understood by the medical sector. Bunty always knew her mother as they wore the same brooch and felt them when they met (and Peggy had a VAST amount of cake for Bunty to try!) Many a great time had by all. Peggy will be sorely missed and so will Bunty by her Birmingham staff team now she is living in Norfolk:-)

First published: Wednesday 26 September 2012
Updated: Thursday 28 July 2016