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The Abbey 1966 Leaver

‘Wow! That’s interesting!’ has been the story of my life.  Chance steps, deep immersion and enjoying every minute only retrospectively looks like a logical sequence.  When I was 18, The Abbey School was invited to attend an Oxfam ‘Point Five’ conference, about injustices such as poverty experienced by half the world.  I began to know then that I was most interested in low resource settings, the developing world.

I did a Biology/Psychology degree then during my MPhil in Animal Behaviour/Ethology decided to move into Health, happening to win a national Fellowship to study ‘Community Medicine’.

Public Health is an amazing career. There are so many fascinating aspects. From population surveys; through study of interventions; to policy and strategy; along with commissioning, quality improvement, and hugely importantly, tackling inequalities and ensuring equity of service provision.   Key ways of working include collaboration with other organisations and strategic leadership. Ongoing professional development is central.  Key topics include health protection (immunisation, screening, outbreaks of disease and other incidents); health improvement and determinants of wellbeing (including exercise and good nutrition) along with ever-essential health communication. Much Public Health work is done in situations that are uncertain, political and in environments that are sensitive.

From a Research Fellow working on quality of health care in rural Ghana, I held Lecturer and Senior Lecturer posts combining MSc and PhD teaching of senior health personnel from all over the world with research projects on pregnancy cohorts in Sri Lanka with UNICEF, DR Congo, Pakistan, and a 6-African country study with WHO. This led to in-depth work with the newly arrived Manchester Somali refugee community at their request.  I joined a Regional Public Health Group with the national lead for sustainable development, another wow subject! I prepared a retrospective portfolio to become a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health eligible to apply for Consultant posts. I later took a health protection post responsible for commissioning TB services and planning every eventuality for the London Olympics.

Since retirement I volunteer with Ecolocal school grounds projects (improving biodiversity, vegetable growing and peaceful places), I continue as an Associate Editor for an academic Journal and still do occasional lecturing.

What does success look like?

“But of the best of leaders, when their task is accomplished, their work is done, the people all remark ‘We have done it ourselves.’”

Best piece of advice:

‘Go in search of the people, Love them, Learn from them, Plan with them, Serve them, Begin with what they know, Build on what they have’ (James Yen,1930s)

Listen, learn, enquire, and speak out to address injustice; if you don’t say it, who will?