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Bevan, David Robert (1943–2015)

by Barbara Dawson

David Bevan, c.1962, by Barbara Dawson

David Bevan, c.1962, by Barbara Dawson

David Robert Bevan, quadriplegic, printer and publisher, was born on 18 August 1943 at Ryde District Hospital, New South Wales, the first of five children of Victor James Bevan, truckdriver, and later, local busdriver, and his wife Daphne Florence, nee Mobbs. In 1946 the family moved to Glenorie, then a small settlement on the outskirts of Sydney. The Bevans eventually settled there on a 14-acre (5.7 ha) property in Cattai Ridge Road, where David was to live for most of his life.

David was educated at Glenorie Public School, Hornsby Junior Technical School  (1956-57) and Normanhurst Boys’ High School (1958). After graduating in carpentry and joinery from Granville Technical College (1961), he worked (1959-61) for Paul Bridson, a builder in Glenorie. On the 29 July 1961, he underwent a ‘life changing event’ in the backyard of his home. While under his car to check the brakes, the car rolled and the chassis hit his head, causing it to flex, severing his spinal cord. At the time, his younger brother Jimmy was in the car. Although David’s life was saved, he became a quadriplegic and went on his ‘first long holiday to Parramatta [District] Hospital for 18 days’ then, on 16 August 1961 to the Royal North Shore Hospital’s Spinal Unit for a further eight and a half months.

Paralysed from the neck down, David’s life as a carpenter, car driver, active Boy Scout, Sea Scout and tennis player was over. His mother, still with five children at home, took over the nightly four-hourly turning of his body, necessary to prevent bedsores. His father bought him an old electric typewriter, which David learned to use with his minimal elbow and wrist movements. The close-knit community of Glenorie rallied to help, with the staff at the general store and the local co-operative society giving him typing jobs. A duplicator and then an ink duplicator followed and, in 1968, he bought an old letterpress and some monotype. With no feeling in his paralysed arms or hands, he learned to set type and to print. In 1976, he bought a small tabletop offset printer and a platemaker and began his Daveprint Duplicating Service.

For the next 33 years, David printed cards, invitations, brochures and local and political party leaflets. His business developed to become Daveprint Duplicating Service & Wonga Publishing, which over 10 years published 100 editions of the newspaper Glenorie & District Gazette: The Glenorian. (April 2000–November 2010). David himself gathered together the information for local news items, sought the advertising, and designed, organised, and edited the paper. He also published weekly bulletins for five different Rotary Clubs. In 1988 he had helped to produce and to sponsor the publication Glenorie Public School Centenary and District History 1888–1988, and in 1996 published his father’s And the Lord Looked Down: a Book of Verse. (1982, third edition). After the death of his mother in 2009, he had to leave his Glenorie home prior to its sale. He retired the following year.

The recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his service to Rotary clubs and to his local community, David was an honorary member of the Dural Rotary Club and a life member (2008) of the Glenorie RSL. He received an award from the radio Station 2WS (1988) and an Australia Day Community Service award (2001). An active member of the Liberal Party of Australia, he loved Country Music and supported the Parramatta Eels in the National Rugby League competition.

David held no malice, nor voiced any regret or incriminations about his lot. Not until after his death, did his sisters find out about the actual circumstances of the accident. His humanity, dignity and friendship, and his enterprise made David Bevan’s life an inspiration to his wide circle of friends. With his wealth of experience, he trained the carers of other people with spinal cord injuries. A sunny disposition, outgoing personality and quirky sense of humour belied the hardship that he must have daily endured.

Survived by his sisters, Valerie, Rosemary and Marie, and his brother James (Jimmy), he died of respiratory failure at Royal North Shore Hospital on 7 February 2015 and was cremated.

David Bevan’s survival for 54 years as a quadriplegic is a testament to his strength of character and endurance. The end of one of his FaceBook comments sums up his attitude: ‘Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance’.

Original Publication

  • People Australia, 12 December 2016

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Citation details

Barbara Dawson, 'Bevan, David Robert (1943–2015)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/bevan-david-robert-26928/text34451, accessed 17 October 2019.

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