Member Bio's


Val Orchard Clarke and Marilyn Black at the 4th International Alpha-1 Patient Congress

Marilyn Black

I was diagnosed with Alpha-1 in 2006 after my sister was tested and suggested I get tested too. Finding out I was an SZ did not come as a shock as I now had a name for the respiratory problems that I lived with. I have had asthma, allergies, hay fever and bouts of bronchitis since my teens. In later years I struggled with breathlessness when exercising, especially when tramping as any climbing made breathing difficult.

I started my working life as a hairdresser in 1967. The chemicals in the perm solution, hairspray and dye caused me to constantly wheeze and cough and I was diagnosed with asthma. I was advised by the doctor to give up hairdressing after 18 months as the asthma was not going to improve in this environment. I would not have chosen hairdressing as a career if I had the knowledge that I have now. I retrained as a teacher in adult education and worked in this area for many years.

I want to encourage and support those with Alpha-1 and their families through networking.

Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke

I am the partner of our co coordinator Val Orchard who many of you know passed away on the 10 of October 2016 as a result of complications resulting from being a ZZ Alpha. Val is reunited with her younger brother Phil, another ZZ Alpha, who passed away in England in June 2016 from complications after a successful double lung transplant.  Although I am an MM, Alphas are and have been a part of my life for over 40 years and will continue to be so.  We have three sons who are all MZ.
Like Val, my roots are in England but my home is as a New Zealander, living in the Hutt Valley, having been here since 1976.  I am recently retired having taught Life Sciences to nursing, sport and exercise, and health science students at Wellington Polytechnic and then Massey University for 37 years.  I have received awards for my teaching and have a passion for explaining science in every day terms. This was recognised on my retirement by having a teaching laboratory named after me.
Hopefully, I can support and help you and your families in any way I can and help you with any questions you may have - there are no silly questions!”