The Robin Tavistock Award




The Trustees of the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are delighted to announce that Audrey Holland is the 2022 recipient of The Robin Tavistock Award.

This award is named after Robin Tavistock, the 14th Duke of Bedford who founded The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia.  It is presented annually to a person, or group, who is inspirational and has made a significant contribution to the field of aphasia.

Professor Audrey Holland’s contribution to the world of aphasia cannot be quantified – to list her achievements or describe her influence fully would require dozens of pages.  In a career that has spanned six decades [retirement included], her influence has reached every sphere of the aphasia world: research, clinical and mentoring.  Her work has been inspirational not only in America and Canada but as far afield as Australia, UK, throughout Europe and beyond.  Where people focus on aphasia, Audrey’s influence can be found.

Throughout Audrey’s career she has championed a holistic approach to improving the quality of life for people with aphasia, for their families and friends. At the same time, she has encouraged clinicians and researchers to look to the challenges faced by people with severe aphasia and chronic aphasia. With most aphasia research focused on milder forms of aphasia, Audrey encouraged researchers and clinicians to consider under-researched groups of people with aphasia – the interventions that might be delivered in the community and long-term support for people with aphasia to live “life with aphasia”. To say that she has helped to transform the field of aphasia research, its protocols, and how that filters through into clinical practice would be an understatement.

Audrey’s vision and enthusiasm for pioneering programmes of work has meant that she has often been ahead of the curve, developing new concepts, the application of new technologies, and ambitious initiatives, always with the goal of improving the lives of people with aphasia. Again, it is impossible to try and capture the complete breadth of influence but in the late 1970s, her pioneering approach to ‘functional communication’ directed clinical attention towards therapy to improve quality of life, a focus that continues to permeate aphasia therapy to this day. In addition, her use of apps in aphasia therapy, the various cognitive neuropsychological approaches developed or inspired by her aphasia research regarding behavioural protocols and her support for, and contribution, to data sharing initiatives (such as AphasiaBank) are just a few key examples of her progressive approach.

Amongst this long history of highly innovative approaches, a more recent example is perhaps Audrey’s role as a founding member of Aphasia Access which works with healthcare professions to transform communication settings to facilitate greater participation by people with aphasia, supporting those that teach the next generation of aphasia therapists and students who work with people with aphasia. Even in her retirement Audrey has continued to apply her life coaching skills to improve the lives for people with aphasia.

To add to this long list is a key area that cannot be underestimated and that is Audrey’s ability to mentor, inspire and support future generations of clinicians and researchers. This is another way in which her influence continues to grow and will continue to impact on many generations of aphasia researchers to come.  Several of the leading clinicians and researchers in the aphasia world today would all pay homage to how she and her work inspired them to become who they are today.

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia recognises that Audrey’s work has encompassed a broad range of neurological conditions, but for the purpose of this Award we focus solely on aphasia. However, this only makes Audrey’s achievements in the context of aphasia research and clinical practice even more remarkable.  This Award is for someone or a group who has made a significant contribution to the field of aphasia – we cannot imagine that anyone fits that criterion more.

 A  formal presentation was made at the International Aphasia Rehabilitation Conference Friday 24th June 2022.