Anna Koller Eady obituary

Other lives: Physiotherapist who became a teacher of Medau rhythmic movement

My mother, Anna Koller Eady, who has died aged 95, was a woman of enormous pluck and energy. As well as her professional roles as a physiotherapist and later as a teacher of Medau (rhythmic movement), she made two radical moves in life through her two marriages.

Born into a farming family in Asperup, Denmark, she was the daughter of Carl Olsen and Helga (nee Hansen Margaard). She went to school at Brenderup, from where, aged 15, just before the second world war broke out, she went on a school cycling trip and pedalled the length of the Rhine in Germany. It was the start of her international outlook.

After studying physiotherapy in the early 1940s, she began work in the Copenhagen municipal hospital. In June 1946, on her way home to Denmark from a work event at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, she met the Hungarian-born cytogeneticist Peo Koller on the train. Peo lived in London, and they had a whirlwind romance, with many letters passing between them. He was nearly twice Anna’s age, and they were aware there might be family opposition to them marrying, so he brought his official papers to his first meeting with her parents in Denmark, to prove he was a bachelor. Anna’s mother swept the papers on to the floor. Undeterred Anna moved to London, and they married in December that year.

Numerous scientists from around the world would visit them at their small house in Acton, west London, and Anna’s Danish open sandwiches were renowned. She had given up work to raise their children, but during the 1956 Hungarian uprising volunteered at the refugee centre in Mindszenty House, west London. Six remarkable letters that she wrote to her parents during that time were later published as A Handful of Hungarian Earth (2015).

In 1958 Anna returned to work briefly as a physiotherapist at Hammersmith hospital, but soon found herself diverted into the world of Medau. She had always been physically fit and interested in exercise and, after attending classes for a few years, she was invited to train to become a Medau rhythmic movement teacher herself. She taught classes in Ealing, west London, and Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, where my parents retired in 1973.

Peo died in 1979. Years later, aged 65, Anna met a retired New Zealand farmer, Lewis Eady, who was visiting the UK on holiday. Within a few months they were married, with Anna’s granddaughters at the wedding. Together they bought and ran a 1,000-acre sheep farm near Taupo in New Zealand.

After Lewis died in 2004 Anna decided to stay in New Zealand, where her oldest daughter, Christa, had joined her. In her 90s she was still doing daily exercises, had embraced computers and Skype, and yarn-bombed her walking frame.

Anna is survived by her daughters, Christa, Pia and me, step-daughters Deborah and Brigid, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and her sister, Vibeke.

Karin Koller

The GuardianTramp

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