Mary Godfrey 1953-2020

08 December 2020

Mary Godfrey, Reader in Health and Social Care, University of Leeds, and Associate Editor for Age and Ageing journal, died in St James Hospital, Leeds on 3rd September 2020, aged 67 years.

Born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1953, Mary grew up in the shadow of the famous Galtee Mountains. She was a studious child and won a scholarship to the local convent secondary school, one of only six in Ireland.

By the time she went to the University of Cork to study sociology, she was a passionate supporter of human rights and social justice, a passion which remained with her through her life. A proactive campaigner from an early age she met her husband Ken (who predeceased her in 2016) in Paris at an event on Bastille Day in 1974. In 1976 Mary moved to London to be with Ken and began work as a social worker. Her research career began with brief stints in Dublin and London before her appointment to the Nuffield Institute for Health, University of Leeds in 1996.  She remained at the University for the rest of her life and she became a much-respected expert in qualitative research applied to older people, particularly older people with cognitive impairment. From 2012 she was based in the Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, contributing her expertise to several research programmes relating to dementia care, delirium management, intermediate care services, physical activity in care homes and pain management, drawing out new perspectives and insights to inform current and future work. Mary set the bar high, always encouraging and supporting others to reach the same exemplary standards that she set herself. Mary’s careful, thoughtful work was sometimes at odds in this fast paced world but she was steadfast in producing the best work, however long it took.

Mary was a long-standing Associate Editor for Age and Ageing, bringing her trade mark conscientious approach to the work and through insightful and helpful reviews disseminating her knowledge and expertise to the next generation of researchers. As the Editor stated, “Her insight, diligence and rigour were always combined with a supportive, even nurturing style which was greatly appreciated by a succession of editors and of course the authors, whether their work was accepted for publication or not”.

She will be remembered as a very kind and caring person, and as a modest and approachable colleague. Sympathies to her two children who have lost a mainstay of their lives.

This tribute was written by Professor Anne Forster, Head of the Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation and Professor John Young, Emeritus Professor of Elderly Care Medicine.