Dr Rebecca Palmer DVM was a remarkable person: serene, gentle, caring, deeply religious, interested in many different things. She also had a wacky sense of humour. Every one who met her felt enveloped by her sense of caring and need to make the world a better place.
After graduating as a veterinarian in Missouri, she worked as a veterinarian in the USA, then took on missionary work in New Guinea for several years before moving to Australia. She loved living in Australia and settled in Canberra. It was during this time that her interest in acupuncture, homeopathy and herbs developed. Rebecca's other interest was Australian wildlife. She became a wildlife carer and was particularly devoted to raising and rehabilitating wombats.
Rebecca was a graduate of the first IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society) course and was instrumental in educating the vets in Canberra on the benefits of acupuncture and other complimentary medicines. A number of them went on to do IVAS courses.
When the Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Association became a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association in 1986, Rebecca Palmer was its first President, a position she held for five years.
In 1991 Rebecca established the first completely holistic veterinary practice in Canberra, realising a long-held dream. At last she could concentrate fully on using the therapies that she was so passionate about.
Rebecca became the wife of the Revd David Oliphant, who was Rector of St Philip's from 1995 to 1998.
Dr Palmer practiced successfully as a veterinarian until 1996, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She died on 15th October 1996. The silk banners and the stained glass window in the St Philip's church building are dedicated to her memory.
Rebecca's family and friends established a memorial trust fund to benefit the two things that she was really passionate about, complimentary therapies (particularly acupuncture) and wildlife (particularly wombats). Money from the trust was donated to the Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Group to educate and spread the word to veterinarians and the general public on the benefits of acupuncture for animals.
Information from Australian Veterinary Acupunture Group.
St Philip's banners, designed by Marlene Greenwood assisted by Leonie Kelly.
Photographs by Ian Cousins PSM.