This Award was created by the Crouch Bursary Fund to celebrate the life of an influential occupational therapist in the field of psychiatry and mental health. It is awarded to the best oral presentation related to this field, at the bi-annual congress of the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA). Audience members contribute to rating eligible presentations using an innovative online scoring system, with the final decision moderated by the Crouch Bursary Fund board if there is a tie between candidates.
The winner receives a monetary prize and a certificate from the Crouch Bursary Fund. At the discretion of the Board, a runner-up may be awarded a smaller prize as well as a certificate.
Joy Varney-Blackburn and Rosemary Crouch in 2011
Joy Varney-Blackburn (nee du Toit) played a very special role in the profession of occupational therapy and particularly in the field of mental handicap /intellectual disability. She started her career as an occupational therapist at Tara hospital in Johannesburg and later worked for a lengthy period as senior occupational therapy consultant and head of department in the Life Care group of psychiatric hospitals.
Joy trained at the Pretoria College of Occupational Therapy which later became known as the Vona du Toit College. She was sponsored by Life Care to train in the techniques of Sensory Integration in the USA and on her return she pioneered the use of this treatment technique in South Africa for the treatment of mentally handicapped children with self -injurious behaviour. Her unique work was published in the first 3 editions of “Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health” edited by Crouch and Alers. Life Care also sponsored her to present papers at the congresses of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy which were held in Hamburg and Hong Kong.
Joy was an original member of the POTS Interest Group and a pioneer member of the Crouch Trust, predecessor to the Crouch Bursary Fund. She contributed greatly to the professional association for occupational therapy now known as OTASA, serving as its president of OTASA from 1998 to 2001. She was also a master potter in her spare time and – typical for a community-minded occupational therapist – started an industry for homeless people, who fashioned the famous ‘creature’ pots loved by many. Strongly family oriented, Joy married her second husband Malcolm Blackburn after her first husband Keith Varney passed away. Her three children include a daughter and two sons.
She died in 2011 and through the Award in her name the Crouch Bursary Fund will honour her legacy and keep her memory alive.
Joy Varney-Blackburn, inspirational occupational therapist
To avoid conflicts of interest, serving members of the Crouch Bursary Fund board are not eligible for the Award. Where a board member has been involved in the research presented (for instance, in the capacity of supervisor or co-author) but does not present it, the presenter is eligible. Crouch Bursary Fund bursary recipients are also eligible.
The Crouch Bursary Fund is delighted to have inaugurated the above Award at OTASA’s 2021 Congress, and to have been able to include a runner-up award thanks to a donation from Joy’s son in memory of his late mother.