Sabrina Halliday (1955–2015)

The recent passing of Sabrina Halliday (married name, Levy) was shocking – she was such a vital person and her ‘to do’ list was in no sense complete.

Sabrina started life and graduated in Northern Ireland, moving to do research/teaching at Leeds, including ‘De-institutionalisation – Moving Children with Mental Handicaps from Long Stay Hospital to Community Care’ in the mid-1980s. Children hospitalised for being learning disabled!? Services were so different… Sabrina’s commitment, clear thinking and resourceful approach  ensured this project was key to the start of ‘normalisation’ for the local Service.

Training as a clinical psychologist enabled more involvement in making change happen for individuals. Her instinct for equal opportunity and equal value led to respected inter-agency and multidisciplinary input and was expressed generally in active support for anti-apartheid, feminist politics and the charity Shelter. She also trained in family therapy, a natural development for her belief in collaboration and relationships.

She pioneered a ‘Life Span’ family therapy clinic and she helped raise the profile of systemic approaches in work with people with learning disabilities and their support network. In 2002 she moved to Somerset LD services where she continued to work effectively in a range of roles – management, clinical, teaching and research. Much of this was innovative (dementia screening, rapid intervention team, health psychology, etc.) and courageous – for example, she set up and chaired a ‘Good Practice Panel’ which successfully considered the difficult ethical and legal issues of complex, challenging presentations.

In 2010 a health scare prompted retirement and return to Northern Ireland to give more time to her family including her mother, husband Dave, brother and sisters and her beloved daughter Amy, whose upbringing reflected the essence of Sabrina’s approach in life: serving ,valuing, enjoying and facilitating fulfilment in others.

To the end Sabrina was modest about herself, but she positively glowed with humanity. She set herself and others high standards and occasionally her frustration with those who fell short, stirred that glow into a shower of sparks, but for the majority she was a much-loved and trusted team player with an infectious chuckle.

More recently, Sabrina had re-awoken her professional energy and started to do some clinical work in Ireland. No doubt, even in that short time, she will have made a difference.

Sabrina would have been the first to acknowledge that any human system requires a complex and varied mix of individuals (i.e. diversity is not only politically correct, it is socially essential), but there is also little doubt that there would be more happiness and less trouble in the world (and the NHS!) if more were like her. Thank you, Sabrina, you will not be forgotten.

Judy Fox
Somerset Partnership, Clinical Psychologist – Retired
Lorna Robbins
Clinical Psychologist – ALD Psychology Lead, Somerset Partnership
Maggie Potts
Manager and Clinical Psychologist, Leeds ALD Service

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