I was honoured to open the Eileen Perrottet Therapy and Wellness Centre at Mt Wilga Private Rehabilitation Hospital at Hornsby on Wednesday, 7 November. Mt Wilga played an important role in the founding of the Australian Paralympics movement, driven by Dr John Grant, a member of the hospital’s medical advisory committee, remedial gymnast Kevin Betts and the senior physiotherapist Eileen Perrottet. Eileen was passionate about utilising sport as a rehabilitation method for patients recovering from spinal injuries. In 1959, she organised the first paraplegic games in New South Wales, at Mt Wilga. She recruited, trained and fundraised for the talented athletes from the 1959 team for the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960. The three New South Wales athletes—Gary Hooper, Daphne Hilton and Ross Sutton—were all former patients of Eileen’s, and they won three gold and five silver medals between them. The hospital previously honoured Kevin Betts and John Grant. Now, with the naming of the Eileen Perrottet Therapy and Wellness Centre, another important person is remembered not only in the history of Mt Wilga but in the broader history of the Australian Paralympics movement.
The opening coincided with Mt Wilga’s 65th anniversary celebrations. I would like to congratulate Mt Wilga’s past and present staff, and in particular their outstanding CEO, Lorrie Mohsen, for providing specialist services to our local community and beyond. Mt Wilga provides rehabilitation and therapy services to people in our community as well as the cutting edge, globally relevant work on lymphoedema among other specialised treatment in neurological, orthopaedic, musculoskeletal and cardiac rehabilitation. Congratulations, Mt Wilga.