By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE) passed away two weeks ago.
For me, Kevin was a trusted colleague and friend who I will always miss. I learned a lot from Kevin and I will carry those lessons with me forever.
Kevin accepted many leadership roles and he was an example of what can be done when people work together. Kevin was the director of EPC - International, the director of Hope Ireland and the past director of EPC - Europe.
Kevin was also a key leader with Not Dead Yet - UK and acted as their spokesperson for several of their successful campaigns.
Kevin's professional background gave his approach to the debate on how to care for and support people with terminal and incurable illnesses and disabilities a particularly well-rounded quality. From disability (Disability Wales; Disability Rights Commission; Inclusion21; Not Dead Yet UK) to adoption (the Welsh Government's Adoption Expert Advisory Group; St David's Children's Society), not to mention five years with the Welsh Ambulance Trust, Kevin's outlook was firmly rooted in seeking answers to a single question: 'how can we as a society work to support and uphold the value of every person around us?' This was his life's work, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised. (borrowed from the Care Not Killing Alliance)
Kevin was a great communicator. Kevin wrote many articles, he did many debates, he was interviewed on countless occasions and he provided excellent conference speeches. Here are links to his recent articles:
- Judgement day in Supreme Court of Canada decision - Disability discrimination to death. (July 31, 2015).
- Opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide based on evidence of disability discrimination. (July 2, 2015).
- Belgium euthanasia leads to a decline of society. (June 26, 2015).
- Assisted suicide for disabled people - Democracy in Britain? (June 23, 2015).
- Let's have an open, honest and balanced conversation on assisted suicide in Ireland. (May 5, 2015).
- Level headed assisted suicide debate based on real evidence not misplaced emotion. (May 4, 2015).
- Deep sedation: France is in danger of buying a deadly illusion. (March 17, 2015).
- Conversation with Terry Pratchett. (March 13, 2015).
- Canadian Supreme Court condemns disabled people to death. (February 20, 2015).
- Assisted suicide campaigners' deaths prove we do not need to change assisted suicide laws. (January 7, 2015).
Kevin was a collaborator. Kevin knew that success came through activating many people who have different perspectives. Kevin knew that there were many reasons to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. He was most comfortable speaking from his personal experience with disability, but he was also incredibly effective at reaching out to multiple political points of view.
Kevin was a leader. Kevin knew the direction that we needed to go and he shared his wisdom with everyone who he worked with. He had a way of listening to perspectives and carefully correcting false ideas. Several leaders have shared with me the way that Kevin would help them and advise them in their advocacy. He was a patient leader, even when he didn't agree.
Kevin was a family man and my friend. My experience with Kevin was that he put the needs of his family, especially his wife Fabienne, before himself. He was proud of his children, Terry, Gerry and Sue. He was sick for sometime, but he shared with me his concern for his family and placed them ahead of himself.
There are so many people who experienced Kevin, as a gifted friend, in their lives. I for one, will always be thankful for the opportunity of having him in my life.