Neil Taylor stood shoulder to shoulder with Taranaki families
Former IHC Chair Neil Taylor died on 29 August ending his long commitment to this organisation and to the South Taranaki community he loved.
“Neil made an extraordinary contribution over 45 years to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” says IHC New Zealand Chief Executive Ralph Jones. “Along with so many others, I’m enormously grateful for his unstinting service and invaluable expertise as well as being very sorry to lose a good friend.”
The news of Neil’s passing prompted a stream of tributes from the many South Taranaki organisations he had helped over the years, along with those of friends and colleagues.
In 1978 Neil and his partner Paul Harris, of Harris Taylor Chartered Accountants, came up with a plan to support their community. Paul supported the Scouts, while Neil called into the Hawera office of IHC and asked if he could help. Neil’s wife Vivien says it was his mother who encouraged him to seek out IHC.
Neil did not have a child with a disability, but he joined forces with those who did to make lives better for families. He joined a team of parents in South Taranaki who raised money tirelessly to provide the services their disabled children were missing out on.
“Working in the field of intellectual disability as a volunteer has been incredibly rewarding for me and my family for the largest part of my working life,” Neil said in 2016 when he was reappointed to the IHC Board.
“Joining IHC was for me an opportunity to give something back to the community and to be part of an organisation that upholds strong values and a commitment to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disability.” Neil became Chair of the IHC Board in 2017 and served until 2020.
The South Taranaki Branch of IHC ran like a well-oiled machine fuelled by the goodwill of the people of Hawera and the surrounding towns. Members of the branch committee met their annual fundraising target with superhuman effort involving galas, cake stalls, catering, golf tournaments and the love of a good community. The annual IHC gala brought in $10,000 and the IHC Golf Tournament at Manaia Golf Club another $3000. Neil and Paul’s firm sponsored the prizes each year.
Neil was South Taranaki Branch President of IHC from 1986 to 1996. He also served as IHC Vice President, and he was on the Board of both IHC and Accessible Properties Ltd, chairing the Audit and Finance committees of both organisations. He was a Chartered Accountant and Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. In 1998 he was made a NZ Life Member of IHC. Neil received a QSM in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to people with intellectual disabilities and the community.
The South Taranaki Branch, founded in 1959, went into recess in 2017 finally acknowledging the fact that fewer people these days have the time or the inclination to serve on committees. Speaking at the time, Neil put it down to time-poor families rather than lack of support for people with intellectual disabilities.
“There was a community love for this organisation. In the early days we had phenomenal community support for our branch committee.”
Neil is survived by his wife Vivien, his three daughters, Steph, Jo and Gerry and Vivien’s two sons, Vaughan and Nick, and 10 grandchildren.
Above: Neil and Vivien Taylor were married for 30 years. Neil supported IHC for more than 45 years.