Press Office


Aphasia award speaks volumes


Professor David Howard has been given The Robin Tavistock Award 2013 for his invaluable contribution to aphasia research.

Most often caused by a stroke, aphasia can make it hard for people to speak, read, write, understand language or use numbers.

As a speech and language therapist and neuropsychologist at Newcastle University, Professor Howard’s research mainly focuses on aphasia, encompassing issues on language processing, therapy and the representation of language in the brain.

"We are delighted that Professor Howard has accepted our invitation to be the 2013 recipient of the award,” said Henrietta, Duchess of Bedford, wife of the late Robin Tavistock. “David Howard was chosen this year, not only by us, but after a consultation with many others. It is a very popular choice."

With over 100 publications to his name, Professor Howard is considered a ‘towering figure’ in aphasia research.  He was one of the first to bring the insights of cognitive neuropsychology to the field of aphasiology.

As a result, he has considerably added to the understanding of the nature of aphasic impairments and how to treat them.  His more recent research has used advances in brain imaging to illuminate the neural representation of language.

“I’m delighted and honoured to be receiving this award,” he said. “Much of the credit belongs to my friends and collaborators both in Newcastle and elsewhere.

“In particular, the success of the Tavistock Aphasia Centre North East and the North East Trust for Aphasia, both of which are based at Newcastle University, was a key contributor to the award. I’m hugely grateful to my University colleagues and the many people with aphasia who work with us for making these so successful."

The Duchess of Bedford added that Robin had a special relationship with the project in Newcastle as he was directly involved in its inception and it gave him great pleasure to see the Centre evolve.

In addition to theoretical rigour, Professor Howard’s research has a strong focus on the clinical needs of people with aphasia and has helped to generate a legacy of therapy and assessment materials that are widely used by therapists both in the UK and beyond.

This award is also made in recognition of his role in student education.  His skills as a teacher, supervisor and mentor have been felt by countless students, particularly of speech and language therapy, with many of those former students now clinical and research leaders in their own right.

He was also recognised for his contribution in setting up The North East (since renamed as The Tavistock) Aphasia Centre at Newcastle University in 1999.  

Now acknowledged internationally as a pinnacle of excellence, the centre offers intensive therapy to people with aphasia, provides cutting edge clinical education for SLT students and is leading research into the assessment and treatment of aphasic impairments.  

Most recently, the centre has supported the development of the North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA).  This charity, run largely by people with aphasia, has become an independent, award winning self-help group that is inspiring others across the country.

The Robin Tavistock Award 2013 is awarded in memory of the 14th Duke of Bedford who founded The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. It is presented annually to a person, or group, who has made a significant contribution in this field.

published on: 10 September 2013