Many of you will probably by now have learnt of the death of our membership secretary Pat Howard. I had been aware of Pat’s health issues for many years, but the sad news still came as a tremendous shock to me.
I first met Pat when I was invited to attend an AGM of Counselling NorthWest in August 2007, this was an informal invitation from the then current Chair, the exact details of what took place at this meeting now escape me, but I distinctly recall leaving that meeting as the newly elected Chair of CNW! Pat definitely had an influential input in those proceedings.
Although I only knew Pat in a professional capacity, I was always impressed by her genuine enthusiasm for the ethos of CNW, and the support she gave me unstintingly during my tenure as Chair. Many people have commented in other places about the enduring impression that Pat left them with, her generosity of spirit, the hug that always accompanied our meeting, her willingness to offer support and advice to others (a more experienced and well-read counsellor would be hard to find) but this was always offered in a relaxed and modest way.
The legacy she has left with her counselling work at St Joseph’s Family Centre, working with young people and families often in extremis has been well attested to.
I will remember Pat as someone who could always make me smile and feel good about myself, with no obvious effort from her, a rare gift indeed! Thank you Pat
I’ll miss you
Here are some words from the eulogy given at Pat’s Requiem Mass
Her generosity of spirit was simply joyous. She celebrated and praised with sheer delight the achievements, talents and good deeds of others. Meanness in any shape or form was completely alien to Pat and being in her company was something to treasure.
Another tribute – ‘Time is one of the most precious things in life and no amount of time was too much for her to give’.
On the next page are some further comments about Pat’s professional life, provided by her husband Tony.
Pat left school at 17 and joined ICI as a Lab Assistant. She then went on to have a successful 33-year career as a scientist with ICI. She worked all of that time developing and using a technique called X-Ray Diffraction Crystallography, and made important contributions to many research programmes including ‘Saffil’, a ceramic, high temperature insulating fibre which was used to insulate the heat shield on the Space Shuttle; ‘Monnex’, still the world’s best dry powder fire extinguisher (of which Tony was one of the three co-inventors), and ‘Tamoxifen’, the breast cancer drug.
In working in X-Ray Diffraction, she was following in the footsteps of Rosalind Franklin, who should have shared the Nobel Prize with Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins for the discovery of the structure of DNA, which helped give birth to modern genetics, but she had died at an early age and the Nobel Committee does not award prizes posthumously.
Pat was one of only 7 female scientists in the R&D department at Winnington in mid-Cheshire, the ladies being paid 80% of what men were paid for the same job – plus ça change! She railed against this as you would imagine and eventually achieved parity!
In 1994, she took early retirement and made a major career change, enrolling on the 3-year Counselling Diploma course at West Cheshire College under the tutorship of Ken Lewis. As part of the Diploma, she obtained a placement at a GP Medical Centre in Warrington and made such an impression that the Practice took her on the staff once the placement had been fulfilled. She practised for some four years until fundholding ceased for GP practises and they had to let her go.
She then volunteered as a Counsellor at St Joseph’s Family Centre in Warrington, a registered charity which has just celebrated its centenary, and continued to work with children up until her health started to fail less than a year ago. As testament to her counselling abilities, she always agreed to be assigned the most difficult cases!
Her connection with Counselling Northwest started back in April 1996 when she attended her first meeting. (CNW had started ca September 1992, the first meeting being appropriately on “Networking”).
She became involved as a committee member in 1998 then she became Membership Secretary in 2000. Owing to a lack of helpers on the committee, Tony was ‘recruited’ to take over as Treasurer. Things slowly improved and with just a few hiccups in the intervening years, CNW has continued to grow into what it is today.
Outside of Counselling, Pat has been a cat lover all her life and became heavily involved in the Cat Show world – being Membership Secretary of two cat clubs for well over 25 years, as well as showing and judging cats. She was also an expert at Embroidery and many a Birth Sampler has become a family heirloom amongst friends and family.