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Helping Hands Blog
  • Writer's pictureDaanyaal Mohamed

Celebrating Rowena Webb

Pictured here: Rowena with Lea Willemse and Gloria Makalime, two of our staff members

Rowena Webb was born in Riverlea in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was the youngest of 4 children, 2 sisters and a brother. The family moved to Cape Town, where Rowena attended St Cyprian’s School and at the age of 9 was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She accepted her condition and lived a normal life growing up as a diabetic. She always had many friends, loved socializing, dancing, reading and music.

She did promotional work in her early career and also some Public Relations work but worked in the Home Loans environment for the majority of her career, her last position being an Executive Consultant for SA Home Loans. She loved her career and was passionate about making a material difference to people’s lives by assisting them in placing a secure roof over their heads, through her bond approvals.

Over this time, in 2006 Rowena was diagnosed with total kidney failure and commenced with dialysis treatment. In 2008 she was successfully selected for a donor kidney transplant but unfortunately, the transplant was unsuccessful. Instead of allowing that to deter her from her life’s goals and ambitions, she decided to immerse herself in her career and continued with her 3 dialysis sessions per week. In 2010 Rowena had her first partial left foot amputation, and in 2011 her second amputation of her right leg amputated below the knee. She commenced rehabilitation therapy and after 3 weeks was discharged for re-entry into the world. Her company adapted her work vehicle to enable her to drive herself to work and back and she obtained a prosthetic limb and learned to walk on it with the aid of crutches in a very short space of time.

Rowena was an ardent Manchester United supporter since the age of 14 and through her drive and determination was the recipient of an incentive award at work in 2014 which partially funded a trip to the UK, where she was fortunate enough to have been a guest at the MUDSA 25th anniversary dinner where she met many of the celebrity footballers on the evening. She also engaged the Manchester United Disabled Supporter’s Association to attend a game at Old Trafford and met all the players directly after the game, followed by being interviewed for her story to be included in MUDSA’s magazine, Rollin’ Reds. They were very taken in by her positive attitude to life that she was subsequently requested to submit articles for publication.

In November 2015 Rowena had to undergo another amputation through the knee on her left leg.

After her rehabilitation period, Rowena turned to regular exercise and diet control to maintain optimum health and manage her medical conditions more efficiently. She was fiercely independent, still very career driven and chose to live on her own, including doing all her own cooking, despite being wheelchair-bound.

For those who were fortunate enough to meet her, Rowena was an inspiration and a powerhouse of energy, and most will say that despite her being in a wheelchair you never regarded her as being disabled.

In 2018 she published a biography called Impossible is Nothing on her life story and appeared on the SABC morning Expresso show’s Monday motivational slot. For years she did motivational speaking at various organizations as well as schools.

One of her greatest passions was giving back to the community and she supported numerous charities through not only funding but by getting involved and giving unselfishly of her time. This included choosing to spend Christmas Days, 25 December 2019 with the children and staff at Christine Revell Children’s Home, serving them a lovely Christmas lunch and dessert. The children and staff enjoyed spending time with her. Rowena was also asked to be the guest speaker at the 2020 Annual Women’s Day Event of Christine Revell Children’s Home, that normally takes place on the 9th of August, but then Covid-19 made her appearance and lockdown restriction was implemented.

Rowena sadly passed away on Monday 22nd June 2020 and leaves a legacy of beautiful memories behind for those whose lives she touched and enriched.


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