On October 27, 2019, Dr Anne Bicknell died unexpectedly at her home near Gundaroo in NSW, aged 66 years. She leaves behind her husband Geoff and children Kathryn, Brendan and Lauren.
Dr Anne Bicknell was well known in Canberra having been a General Practitioner in Ainslie for 23 years before becoming Clinical Coordinator for Breast Screen ACT. She had only retired from this role in 2018.
Anne Margaret Bicknell (nee Watson) was born on August 3, 1953, the youngest of four children. Her early years were in Hay NSW, where she led a very happy childhood and began her education. On moving to Sydney with the family she attended High School at Loreto College until 1971.
As a child she showed great talent as a musician, excelling in both piano and viola during her high school years. However, she decided to pursue a career in medicine keeping music as her lifelong passion. She studied medicine at Sydney University qualifying with honours in 1978. While there she met and married Geoff in 1975.
Geoff, now Emeritus Professor in Astrophysics at ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory, saw his early career take them to Kingston, Ontario, in 1977 and Anne took a year out before returning to Sydney to finish her training. She did a year's internship in Canada before taking a position at The Canberra Hospital on their return in 1979. After her training was complete Anne decided to move into general practice.
She and Dr Fiona Brown worked together initially as locums then set up their own practice in the Ainslie Medical Centre. This partnership continued for over 20 years sharing common interests in psychological medicine and end of life care. Their practice included many palliative care patients and they both worked at the newly opened ACT Hospice and ACT Child Abuse Medical Assessment unit.
Anne was blessed with wonderful attributes to be a general practitioner. Her partner Fiona Brown said, "Through it all Anne was a delight to work with. She never failed to amaze me, not only with her medical skills but her enthusiasm and positivity. Her gentle presence and skill of listening was so valued not only by me but also her patients and staff".
A lasting legacy of their partnership was the founding of the ACT Medical Women's Society.
In 2004 Anne became Clinical Coordinator of Breast Screen ACT continuing to serve the community in this role until she retired in 2018. Her dedication was legendary and the experience she brought from her years in general practice came into their own.
However busy the clinics she made time to talk quietly to patients, explaining procedures and listening to their concerns. Anne always found ways of moving around complicating issues be they medical or personal. The whole team relied on Anne to ensure that all patients were listened to and their concerns met. She instigated a training program for General Practitioners in 2009 and her work was recognised in a Public Service Excellence award in 2012. She was the glue that held the whole team together resulting in four years accreditation being given to the clinic in July 2017.
Throughout this time Anne nurtured her other passion, music. She has played the viola in many ensembles over the years including the Australian and NSW Doctors Orchestras. In 2017 she travelled with Geoff to Barcelona and fulfilled an ambition to play in the World Doctors Orchestra, which she enjoyed immensely. In her music, as in her medicine, Anne was always inclusive and supportive of her fellow musicians.
Anne and Geoff relocated to a property near Gundaroo in 2008. Never to do anything by halves they produced wonderful crops of fruit, vegetables and olives. Anne dried, bottled and preserved this harvest and was incredibly generous to her friends with her produce. She and Geoff regularly opened their home to host groups of musicians and scientists and Anne's high teas were a thing of beauty.
As a couple they loved being outdoors. Hiking, camping and driving in the outback were popular holidays. In the last few years, Anne had begun rowing and would regularly drive from home to Lake Burley Griffin before dawn to row with her crew before heading off to breakfast and work.
Geoff's career took him to many international conferences and taking this opportunity they visited many parts of the world. Anne planned these trips meticulously sending regular updates of their travels to their friends.
Anne's untimely death has come as a terrible shock to everyone who knew her. All our thoughts are with Geoff, Kathryn, Brendan and Lauren and her extended family and friends.
- Details of the service will be published in The Canberra Times and on the William Cole Funerals website.