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Abrey, Neale - 1998
Adams, Nancy - 1980
Anderson, Boyd - 1987
Barry Andrew - 2016
Appleby, Frank - 1975
Atkinson, Roy - 1990
Auld, Hedley - 1973
Austenson, Herman Milton - 1999

Portrait

Neale Abrey

Neale Abrey, a quadriplegic farmer who went the extra mile to help other farmers with physical disabilities, was born December 21, 1943 at Simpson. He obtained his primary and secondary schooling at Imperial and took up farming in that district.

Then in 1974 he was the innocent victim of a two vehicle collision that injured his spine and left him paralyzed from the chest down. The effect was traumatic but he and his young family decided to carry on farming. To facilitate this, he and his father installed hand controls and a wheelchair platform lift on his four-wheel drive tractor and so he was able to continue field work. Neale did welding in his own shop, from design to repair, but major equipment repair and maintenance he hired out.

The Abreys built a one-level house with an indoor elevator to the basement. They reduced the size of their farm from 3,000 to 1,200 acres, sold their livestock and focused on continuously cropping wheat, mustard and barley.

Neale resumed his active role in the community, helping with 4-H, serving on the Wheat Pool committee, the church board, and as secretary-treasurer of the Imperial rink committee and volunteer ambulance organization.

Having lived through this crisis Neale commenced helping other farmers who had experienced disabling farm accidents. In 1985 he helped establish the Farmers with Disabilities Program of the Saskatchewan Abilities Council. This program provides moral support and practical advice through visitations to the newly-disabled in hospital and also to the whole family at home. Practical help was given by Neale and his wife, Betty, sharing experiences on how they lived and farmed and used machinery modifications and other farming aids. Nealeís ready smile and wholesome sense of humor reassured many farmers whose disabilities made them fearful about the future.

His approach was not to advise others to copy his techniques but to discuss with their families what adjustments they would have to make to continue farming, and enjoying life recognizing that wholehearted co-operation would be needed from family and neighbors.

As vice-chairman of the Canadian Farmers with Disabilities organization, Neale was of assistance to farmers across Canada. Through presentations to federal and provincial governments and health professionals, and interviews with the media, he fostered a new understanding of the abilities and the needs of farmers with disabilities. He pioneered farming with a wheelchair for 18 years before his tragic death June 7, 1993, in a tractor fire. He was 49.

Sponsored for the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame 1998
by the Farmers with Disabilities Program of the
Saskatchewan Abilities Council

 

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