TEAM NEV: Neville Crowe, left, has learnt to read at the age of 65, with the support of an Anglicare team, including Steve Dean, Roz Hunter, Catherine McGrath and Dot Budworth. His literacy tutor David McDougall is not pictured.AT the age of 65, a Moruya man has learnt to read, putting decades of discrimination and disadvantage behind him.
Born in a remote area in 1949, with both speech and hearing difficulties, Neville Crowe’s ability to learn was fatally underestimated.
He did not receive even a basic education.
“I do not know why I did not get it,” he said this week.
Now, he’s making up for lost time – and it all began with a shopping list.
After Mr Crowe’s mother died a few years ago, Moruya Anglicare appointed a support team for Neville.
Catherine McGrath’s role was to help him become independent.
On their first shopping trip with a carefully thought-out list, Ms McGrath soon realized he could not read it.
She alerted case manager Dot Budworth.
“That was the beginning of us realizing that he had not been to school,” Ms Budworth said.
“Then, we did not have teachers in schools who understood disabilities.
“He missed out.”
Enter retired tutor and computer programmer David McDougall.
Mr McDougall, of Mystery Bay, had taught adults to read in jail and in the TAFE system.
He said the change in Mr Crowe over 18 months, using personal computer programs, has been dramatic.
“He used to slink in with his head and shoulders down,” Mr McDougall said.
“Now he comes in with a smile, businesslike, his shoulders back, his computer under his arm.
“I just smile with pride.
“People like Neville come in, broken, humiliated and negative about themselves.
“They have been told they are useless and will never be able to learn.”
Mr McDougall quickly established that was not true.
“He had been considered sub-normal, but he is really quite shrewd,” Mr McDougall said.
However, the first step was to teach Mr Crowe to speak.
“It was difficult to understand him, because he stuttered so much,” he said.
After intensive practice, Mr Crowe speaks much more clearly.
You can watch himreciting his alphabet for the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner and Anglicare’s Roz Hunter here.
Moruya’s Neville Crowe recites his alphabet with Anglicare’s Roz Hunter.
He spoke this week of his pleasure in writing out his own Christmas cards.
“This is the first year I have done them on my own,” he said.
Ms McGrath helped with some addresses, but the messages were all Mr Crowe’s work.
“I am coming on,” he said.
“I am not real perfect yet.
“There are still a few things I cannot understand, but as we go along I will be able to know what they are.”
Team Neville is collectively delighted.
Support worker Steve Dean said Mr Crowe’s confidence had grown with his vocabulary.
“Being able to communicate has helped so much,” he said.
“He can transport himself to Batemans Bay and back, but he would never have attempted that before.
“He is doing mathematics.”
“He tells me what to do now,” Ms Budworth said.
“When he gets the answers right, there is a spark in his eye,” support worker Roz Hunter said.
The new year holds more reading and times tables.
“There is no limit,” Mr McDougall said.
“I don’t know if I can take him to a PhD, but we will work on it.
“Once you give people an ounce of encouragement and hope, they take over.”
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