Of all the milestones he wanted to reach, Peter Ryan had one goal.
Leaving the world a better place than he found it.
It was this determination to make a difference that Mr. Ryan’s loved ones will remember most.
The resident of Caloundra died earlier this month after a long illness. He was 77 years old.
Mr. Ryan was a founding member and chairman of the Sunshine Coast Access Advisory Network for more than a decade, providing a powerful voice for people with disabilities.
Peter Ryan and his sighted guide dog Pebbles in 2015. Image: Warren Lynam
For the father of three in his early 40s, life changed dramatically when he lost sight as a result of his diabetes.
Long-time friend Peter Parks said that despite his own visual impairment, it never slowed him down.
“Peter was a huge advocate of the visually impaired because he was of course legally blind,” said Parks.
“Some of his successes went unnoticed by many without a disability, but for those with a disability, Peter and the team made a huge difference.”
The Sunshine Coast Australia Day Award nominee worked tirelessly to make the region more accessible by providing advice on hospital and community projects.
Mr. Parks said Mr. Ryan’s guide dog Pebbles and his passion for helping others were constants in his life.
“He was always available to people with disabilities if they needed advice or if he could help in any way he was the first to step in and help,” he said.
“He found a calling as a consultant with Lifeline and spent the next 18 years volunteering with people on the end of a phone.”
Peter Ryan of the Sunshine Coast Access Advisory Network and his passionate hard worker group.
Between all the ways Mr Ryan has impacted the coast, Mr Parks said that his buddy would be most remembered for his tenacity.
“He was a persistent bastard, that’s for sure, but I think that’s how he survived some major health fears and got his way,” he said.
“If we had more people with the courage and determination of Peter Ryan and the generosity of spirit, the world would be a much better place.”
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson recognized the “true community champion” and recognized Mr. Ryan’s commitment to the area.
“Peter made important contributions to many of the council’s projects, including street design on Bulcock Street Caloundra, field testing of Caloundra mobility cards, and contribution to the development of the council’s Access and Inclusion Action Plan 2011-2016,” he said.
“He participated in the council’s disaster preparedness exercises and provided valuable and practical advice to the council evacuation center program to improve accessibility support during disasters. This resulted in a multitude of infrastructure changes in key locations.
Peter Ryan is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities on the Sunshine Coast.
“We cannot thank Peter enough for his contribution to the Sunshine Coast and we hope his actions leave a lasting legacy and inspire others for years to come.”
50 year old caregiver and friend Kay Hagen said Mr. Ryan was “always a gentleman”.
“He has always worked to improve other people with disabilities,” she said.
“He was just a kind gentleman with a heart of gold.
“He was a good family man, a very loyal friend, and a large part of the community.
“We miss him, but he knows that.”
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