David Manchester

A tribute from Dr Nicolas Priestley.

David Manchester died on 26 September 2021 after a short illness, in his hometown of Sydney, he was 56. 

David was a Clinical Neuropsychologist of outstanding ability. His particular expertise was neurorehabilitation and his skills in this field were truly remarkable. 

Earlier in his career, he held appointments in the United Kingdom as Director of Psychology with the Transitional Rehabilitation Unit, and as Clinical Team Leader and Consultant Neuropsychologist with the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust. David then practiced in Sydney and at the time of his passing, was Consulting Psychologist and Principal Project Officer with the NSW Lifetime Care and Support project, where he was responsible for creating a comprehensive document, the Behavioral Support Plan. This outlined guidelines for evidence-based behavioral interventions for multidisciplinary neurorehabilitation clinicians who deal with the most demanding cohort of clients with neuro disabilities, those with extreme behavioural problems. Prior to that, he was Principal Psychologist and Psychology Manager at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. David was also Director of MLR Consulting Psychology in Sydney and an Associate of NMP Consulting Neuropsychology Ltd.

David was one of the best clinicians I knew.  His knowledge of human behaviour and the compromised brain was prodigious, but this was not merely academic excellence, David had a magic ingredient, his personality.

One of the most truly compassionate people I have known, David could engage with the most neurobehavourally compromised clients, build rapport and establish communication where others had failed. His insightful and effective leadership of multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams brought quality of life to a disadvantaged cohort of brain injured people.

As a teacher/trainer, he had an international reputation, he had wit and the ability to express complex concepts with great humour. David’s extraordinary ability to communicate was evident in his Motivational Interviewing courses. Any one of the hundreds of participants at his professional training events will immediately know what I mean. He had the ability to transfer his vast knowledge and experience to others and he inspired professionals from a range of disciplines, to develop their expertise and grow their careers. 

David was a wonderful colleague, objective and clear thinking. He was always ready to assist in untangling clinical complexities in our supervision sessions.  He could foresee issues that I could not see for myself.  

A proud gay man, he was unflinching in his support for others when he witnessed prejudice or malice and never presented such people with the gift of hate. His laughter and his joyful smile were his defence against darkness.  

He was my friend for almost 30 years and those of us close to David were bound to him with hoops of steel. 

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