Late social activist's wife fulfils his wish to finish book

Mrs Chandran-Dudley said working on the book helped her to remember the good times the couple shared.
Mrs Chandran-Dudley said working on the book helped her to remember the good times the couple shared.PHOTO: ETHOS BOOKS

Ron Chandran-Dudley died in 2015, with only 4 chapters done on his struggles and triumphs

He was a champion of people with disabilities, and made it his life's mission to fight for an inclusive society.

Social activist Ron Chandran- Dudley - who was blind from his teens owing to an accident at rugby - had even made plans to put down in words his struggles and triumphs. However, he died on Dec 30, 2015 at the age of 81, after a heart attack.

Now, more than a year later, the book project that he started near the end of 2014 has been completed. Yesterday, The Man With A Mission was launched at The Arts House.

The project was continued by his wife of 53 years, Mrs Rena Chandran-Dudley, and local publisher Ethos Books.

Mrs Chandran-Dudley, 88, said: "He had finished four chapters before he passed on. It was his wish to see the book completed, and I wanted to finish it for him. So we pressed on.

"He was a fantastic husband. It was a difficult year following his passing. The book was a good thing, it helped me to remember the good times we shared."

Mr Chandran-Dudley had narrated the first four chapters of the 152-page book. The remaining chapters continued with his life story through his wife's accounts, as well as from various sources and interviews.

The book reveals his struggles as a teenager grappling with the challenges of his disability and the tireless fight for those with disabilities in Singapore and abroad. It also gives a glimpse into his personal life as a Christian-Tamil man who fell in love with a Jewish-English woman.

Blinded at 19 after a kick to the head during a rugby game, he went on to study social anthropology at the London School of Economics.

He met his wife, who was then a dental nurse, in Britain in February 1962. They married seven months later, and returned in 1964.

Mr Chandran-Dudley sought to raise the profile of people with disabilities, establishing organisations such as the Disabled People's International and the Disabled People's Association (DPA) in the 1980s.

His work laid the foundation for an inclusive society here.

DPA executive director Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills said: "He's the perfect example of someone who, despite his disability, made no excuses and worked hard to achieve bigger things. He went on to show that his rights, and those of people with disabilities, were just as important as anyone else's."

The book will be available at Books Kinokuniya and MPH bookstores from Jan 23 for $15.

It is now available online at www.ethosbooks.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 15, 2017, with the headline 'Late social activist's wife fulfils his wish to finish book'. Print Edition | Subscribe