Tribute to the late Vivyan Margaret Alers
8 April 1954 – 28 April 2018
Vivyan Alers worked with Rosemary Crouch to set up the Crouch Trust (the predecessor of the Crouch Bursary Fund) as a means of funding occupational therapy research in the psychiatric and mental health fields.
Vivyan passed away suddenly in April 2018 and is deeply missed and mourned by the board members.
Co-editor of three editions of "Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health", she was also an expert clinician, academic and author who held both an MSc Occupational Therapy (Wits) and a social work degree.
She was principal editor of “Occupational Therapy: An African Perspective” (OTARG) and a popular lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of the Witwatersrand.
She underwent training in sensory integration and chaired the South African Institute for Sensory Integration (SAISI) for a period, and after undergoing psychodrama training in the UK, Jerusalem and France she became a recognized expert in relation to a technique known as The Therapeutic Spiral.
She used the latter to good effect when working with bereaved and traumatized community members through her non-profit organisation, situated in the poverty-stricken township of Ivory Park on Johannesburg’s outskirts.
Vivyan’s kind and vivacious spirit enriched the lives of family and friends alike, along with her generosity, love of gardening and expertise on the African bush, her creativity and artistic abilities and her overwhelming presence.
Many individuals in need of support globally benefited from her collaboration, teamwork and joint productivity.
Rest in peace Vivyan.
The Crouch Bursary Fund was only created after the publication of the second edition of “Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health” was published and the author was Rosemary Crouch.
This first edition was born out of a need for South African occupational therapy students to have a relevant textbook which addressed the intervention required by occupational therapy within the South African context of mental health. Rosemary, who was senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in occupational therapy at the time, discussed the subject of the lack of reference material in this field with Professor Marj Concha (Wits), Professor Ruth Watson (Cape Town University) and Judith Farrell (head of training in occupational therapy at Pretoria University and President of SAAOT (now OTASA)) in 1987. They all agreed that it would be appropriate for Rosemary to be author of a book. The first edition of “Occupational Therapy and Mental Health “ was published by Rosemary and printed at the University of Witwatersrand in 1989. The book consisted of 22 chapters written by occupational therapists in South Africa who were experts in their various fields of psychiatry and mental health. The agreement amongst the 22 authors was that the funds generated by the book would be held in a fund to further occupational therapy in this field.
South Africa was in the heart of the Apartheid era and so the publication was not widely sold internationally but was an immediate success locally. The majority of South African occupational training programmes prescribed the book. The first edition was soon sold out and only just covered the costs of publication. A second edition, which contained some up-dating, was printed in 1992 by an excellent Cape Town based publisher. This edition was sponsored by the Life Healthcare Group, sold thousands of copies at a very reasonable price and made a remarkable profit on each book. It generated enough money to repay Life Healthcare in full and it became apparent that some type of investment needed to be made as it was realised that the funds generating from the sale of the book needed to be protected.
Vivyan Alers, an expert in the field of psychiatry and mental health, helped open an NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) through the Department of Social Development. A special bank account which generates much interest was opened with the name of the Crouch Bursary Fund. A Board for the Crouch Bursary Fund was created with Rosemary as chairman and Vivyan as Secretary. There are 5 Board members which includes the Treasurer and auditor.
Vivyan was asked by Rosemary to co-author a completely revised and updated 3rd edition which would be marketed internationally now that politically South Africa was recognised. She found Masked, Millar and Longman. She and Rosemary designed the cover and the book was published in 1997. It was a great success. The Crouch Bursary Fund grew and a system to grant sums of money for Research in the field of occupational therapy in psychiatry and Board was developed.
At the end of 2003 Jennifer Creek, a well known British author of textbooks on occupational therapy in all fields of practice, encouraged Rosemary and Vivyan to again up-date the book as so many subjects had changed in the field of psychiatry and mental health and the new DSM had been promulgated. She recommended a British publisher called Whurr Publishers and recommended our book to them. The 4th Edition was published in 2005. During the period that the book was being published Whurr publishers were taken over by the Famous Wiley and Sons.
In 2014 the fifth Edition of Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health was published by Wiley and Blackwell. Photos of the launch are as follows:
Rosemary Vivyan and most of the authors of the 5th Edition.
The Crouch Bursary Fund receives royalties on the publications which are placed in the fast growing account. At least 2 bursaries/awards are granted every year both for individual and collaborative research in the field of occupational therapy in psychiatry and mental health in South Africa. The criteria for obtaining this bursary /award are here.