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In memory of Jane Horsewell

It was with much sadness that SIA heard that Jane Horsewell, the former President of ESCIF (European Spinal Cord Injury Federation) had passed away recently. Her funeral takes place on 16 August 2018 in Copenhagen, a city where she had lived with her family and worked in for many years, both before and after her accident resulting in SCI in 1996.

Bart Hellyer former Chair of SIA (2005-2008) provides his memories of her life and her significant contribution to the development of ESCIF. 

Jane was born, raised and educated in the UK, completing an MSc in sociology at the London School of Economics. She was married to her husband, Andy, and they subsequently moved to Denmark in the late 1970s. With no job to go to, she set up her own business offering training courses to corporate executives, which she developed successfully up to the time of her injury. Following this she took up a position at Copenhagen Business School to teach researchers and teachers to improve their skills to an international student audience. Parallel to this, she joined the Danish SCI Association, becoming its chairman 2002 – 2006, before starting her involvement with ESCIF.

In my capacity as SIA Chair at the time, I first met Jane in Nottwil, Switzerland at the founding annual Congress of ESCIF in 2006, which was being set up to pull together as many as possible of the national groups representing SCI people across the whole of Europe. This had germinated from a steering group the year before.  What first impressed me about Jane was her clear drive, energy and motivation to get ESCIF up and running, not least it involved pulling together disparate groups and nationalities from all across Europe – not just that part of it within the EU. It was no surprise that she was immediately elected as Vice President to Daniel Joggi, the founding President. In subsequent years I met her again at the ESCIF annual Congresses in Heidelburg, Croatia, Copenhagen and elsewhere and it was clear she was the driving force behind ESCIF’s expansion and development in its early years.

It was no surprise Jane was elected ESCIF President in 2010, and soon put her role to good use continuing the expansion and development of the federation.

Just as important, she realised that for ESCIF to be effective it needed to work in a close, more equal collaboration with SCI professionals across Europe and further afield.  She initiated many ESCIF projects, and to make the Federation better known, gave presentations and workshops at ISCOS, NOSCOS and other international conferences. She raised the idea of the global SCI consumer network in Delhi in 2010. She developed this concept in the ISCOS Congresses, and became the first SCI consumer keynote speaker in the history of ISCOS at its Congress in Istanbul in 2013.

Jane stepped down as President in 2014. She continued to be an active driving force in ESCIF until about two years ago when she developed a severe illness. She was supported in dealing with this by her devoted husband, Andy, who also had also been a great support and presence with her throughout her time with ESCIF.  His death earlier this year was hard for her to come to terms with.

Throughout the time I knew her, Jane came over as a highly efficient and effective leader in ESCIF, but just as important, she had a warm, engaging and sympathetic personality and was very open to the suggestions and ideas of others.  She will be sadly missed by all who knew her, and our thoughts are with her family at this time.

Bart Hellyer
August 2018