At my newly established comprehensive school the prevailing attitude was that the chance of getting into Oxbridge was poor. The head of sixth form suggested I write lots of essays and lent me two out-of-date admissions booklets. Undeterred I sat the fourth term entrance exam, was interviewed and offered a place to read PPP. I hadn’t appreciated that women at Hertford in 1979 were still such pioneers. The JCR was intimidating when rugger was on TV, the college bar was not a joy to behold and domestic facilities were non-existent. Nonetheless, I had an extraordinarily unforgettable and confidence building experience. In my second year I founded The Alice Society, and, with a Hertford contemporary Helen Morley, made costumes for OUDS and later on my own for OTG (Edinburgh Fringe, 1981).
I studied Psychology because I wanted to be someone to whom GPs referred patients when they didn’t have the time to talk to them. My undergraduate dissertation was published; my earliest postgraduate work was in a residential special school; I became a community psychologist. I fell in love with the work. It provided the opportunity to be creative and make a difference to the lives of many extremely disadvantaged people. I qualified as a clinical psychologist and I have had over 31 years’ experience working in health and social care mostly with people with intellectual disabilities. My principal research and service development interests have been in Intensive Interaction: an approach to facilitating rapport between service users with the most profound and complex intellectual disabilities and their carers. I am now head of a large NHS Psychological Service.
This once shy comprehensive schoolgirl from rural Devon is extremely grateful for the opportunity to succeed in such diverse ways both at Oxford and thereafter – including being a role model for my two daughters.