Obituary: Dr Mike Hills

Epilepsy New Zealand is deeply saddened to announce that friend, colleague, board member, life member, and loyal supporter, Dr Mike Hills, passed away suddenly on Wednesday 1 May 2013.

Amongst his many achievements over the years, Dr Hills was an Honorary Fellow of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, and it is this, together with his own experience of epilepsy which he had from the age of 19, that formed his interest in researching and teaching in the disability field the past 20 years.

Frank Gouveia, Epilepsy New Zealand’s Chief Executive said; "Dr Hills involvement with Epilepsy New Zealand goes back to the 1970’s. Mike was instrumental in shaping New Zealand’s provision of epilepsy information and support services, and in 1979 he undertook a survey on epilepsy in the Waikato area which resulted in the initiation and development of the Field Officer service for Epilepsy New Zealand. It is this unique service that formed the basis of Epilepsy New Zealand’s service delivery to people with epilepsy and the New Zealand community, and one which we are proud to say is still used to this day".

At the time of his death Mike was a current Board Member of Epilepsy New Zealand; Executive Committee Member of the New Zealand League Against Epilepsy; and Chair of Elections Task Force for the International Bureau for Epilepsy.

In 2009 Mike received a Social Accomplishment Award from the International Bureau for Epilepsy and International League Against Epilepsy; appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to persons with epilepsy and the community in 2002; and was made Ambassador for Epilepsy in 1999 by the International Bureau for Epilepsy. These awards recognise Mike’s outstanding personal contribution to activities that have resulted in a significant advance in the social well-being and/or quality of life for people with epilepsy.

Mike’s expertise and dedication toward the provision of care and support for people with epilepsy made him invaluable to not only Epilepsy New Zealand, but the international epilepsy community.

Frank Gouveia has advised that Epilepsy New Zealand has been inundated with emails and calls of support, and says that responses to his sudden death from the international epilepsy world have been truly wonderful, some of which are; "from USA - We will never forget his unbridled enthusiasm to help people with epilepsy and fight for the cause; from Africa - This really is a great loss to our organisations; from Sweden - This kind and wise man always brought sharp and intelligent advice to whatever problem faced; from Malta - He was such a gentleman, so positive and always so friendly; from Ireland - He was a terrific role model for people with epilepsy around the world and particularly in the Asian region; from Holland - We will miss Mike, the entire epilepsy world will miss Mike."

Epilepsy New Zealand wishes to thank everyone for their expressions of sympathy that have been received from around New Zealand and the world, and wishes to extend their sincere condolences to Mike’s family. A great man who will be sadly missed.