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Patricia Kirwan

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death of Mrs Patricia (Pat) Kirwan, on 4 September 2006, aged 60. Pat joined the University in 1976, as a part-time secretary in the Department of Mining and Mineral Sciences, and retired after 26 years of service in 2002, by which time she had progressed to the position of Administrative Services Manager at the heart of the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering.

Throughout her long career with the University, Pat was distinguished by her dedication, her infectious enthusiasm, and her exceptional gift for dealing with people at all levels, however trying the circumstances may sometimes have been. She dispatched any task she undertook with verve and efficiency. After working for three years part-time, Pat moved to a full-time position in 1979, where she quickly became a keystone of the department, and later of the School which succeeded it. Despite a painful illness, she continued to assume additional responsibilities, including organising social functions and events for the department, both formal, such as degree ceremony celebrations, and less formal staff and staff-student social events, which enlivened the department and helped to forge a strong sense of departmental identity and loyalty. Her promotion to an administrative position in 1998 was well deserved and a measure of the high regard in which she was held.

As well as her departmental responsibilities, Pat Kirwan took a keen and sympathetic interest in the welfare of others. Early in her career she completed a counselling course and was often able to provide counselling to students, who found her both approachable and discreet, and respected the advice she was able to give. Her talent for mediation and advice was also sought out by colleagues, both within her own department and from other areas of the University. Pat served on the Welfare Committee, and was a member of many University networks. After her retirement, she took up a part-time post as a Dyslexia Support Worker. She was also a true team player, acting as a mentor to junior colleagues and keeping up their morale during periods of uncertainty and change, actively supporting them in their career and skills development, and completing a Certificate of Higher Education in Mentoring in 2001.

Pat had an abiding interest in developing her own considerable capabilities, and despite her increasing workload, devoted a significant portion of her free time to further study. As well as certificates in Counselling and Mentoring, she gained A levels, then a Certificate of Higher Education in Literature and Sociology, and went on to obtain a BA in Business Administration from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1998, for which she won the Women in Management Prize for the best performance in the Women in the Labour Market module. She was also an active member of the Institute of Management - Women in Management (including periods as Chair and Secretary to the Yorkshire branch) and of the Association of University Administrators.

Perhaps the best tribute to Pat comes from a former Head of Department, whose reference for promotion noted that, her general demeanourand the merit in the performance of her duties are second to none.

Pat Kirwan leaves a husband, Brian, and two children, Neil and Kim.