Holly Puckering, speech pathologist

Thank you so much for the opportunity to farewell such an incredible, passionate lady. As with many of you here today, I knew Carmen as a colleague and was lucky enough to personally experience her support and passion for our profession throughout the past few years.

Carmen was an inspiration and the most profound and useful mentor I have ever had in my professional life. To define a mentor as a trusted friend and guide is completely apt in this case. Carmen assisted me to make some huge and life-changing decisions, both clinically and professionally. And with the mark of a great mentor, she always brought me to those decisions with ease, without making me feel pressured or pushed.

I first encountered Carmen about seven years ago, after working on a rehabilitation ward and encountering a young man who was not progressing with articulation as we would expect given his injuries. After a few stand offs with various higher-ranked professionals over the seemingly obvious tongue tie that was hindering his progress, I contacted Carmen.

She was so knowledgeable, so understanding and had me pegged from the outset, managing to stir up my stubborn streak. A few standoffs later, the young man’s tongue tie was released and he was eventually discharged home with better speech than he had ever enjoyed. I will never forget Carmen’s chuckle as I related my browbeating of surgeons over the matter. I always enjoyed her laugh; it let me know I’d got it right.

Carmen has inspired, empowered and encouraged so many professionals in the same way, through her generosity and knowledge. Her expertise led her to be invited to become a founding member of the International Association of Tongue Tie Professionals, and her wonderful work Tongue Tie: From Confusion to Clarity has been such an incredible resource worldwide that it has completely sold out.

When I purchased my first copy, I remember Carmen telling me that her work was so important to her that she set the cost low enough for anyone to afford it. What a genuine demonstration of Carmen’s passion and altruism, and I am forever grateful.

After sharing the sad news of Carmen’s passing with colleagues, comments from respected surgeons and allied health professionals included remarks such as: “an incredible pioneer”, “a woman ahead of her time and “she was an inspiration to me”. Carmen touched so many.

The term legacy is somewhat overused these days, but in this case it is truly apt. Carmen’s legacy will live on. Her pioneering work continues everyday all around Australia and the world.

So it is with sadness, but an inspired heart and mind, that I farewell Carmen, as a colleague, friend, mentor and hero.

Thank you Carmen. Rest in peace. We will endeavour to do you proud.