Obituary: Rona Woodward, 50

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Rona Woodward, a champion of disadvantaged young people, has died at the age of 50.

The social work academic worked on behalf of the city and “lived her life by her principles”, according to colleagues.

At Edinburgh Council, she served as a childcare social worker from 1993-96, a criminal justice social worker from 1996-98, and then as a children’s residential social worker from 2000 to 2003.

In between and alongside these positions, she worked as a development officer for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a research fellow in Edinburgh’s School of Law, and a visiting lecturer in Edinburgh’s department of social work from 1999-2002.

Her final role as a lecturer in social work at Glasgow Caledonian University between 2001-04.

Ms Woodward was born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on October 22, 1964, and studied sociology at the University of Glasgow.

After graduating, she worked as an information officer for the lone parents’ charity Gingerbread in the same city before securing a postgraduate diploma in social work at the University of Edinburgh.

Before accepting her Edinburgh position, she was employed as a childcare social worker at the City of Westminster in London before returning to her native Scotland.

Ms Woodward spent the last decade of her life, from 2004, as a lecturer in social work at the University of Stirling.

She held a life-long concern about the rights of young people, and the way their problems are often exacerbated by political and media attitudes.

She talked about these issues in journal articles, conference papers and a report for the Kibble Education and Care Centre called Young People’s Experiences of, and Participation in, the Fostering Process.

Brigid Daniel, professor of social work at Stirling University, said Ms Woodward was “not a detached, dispassionate academic” but “humane and passionate and all the more effective for it”.

He added: “Rona had a clearly articulated value base, founded in the principle of social justice. She lived her life by her principles and brought these principles to her work as a social work academic and in her wider activities with the Social Work Action Network.

“Rona approached all aspects of her academic role with supreme competence, great gusto, good humour and respect for all she worked with. What is now labelled ‘participatory research’ came naturally to her, especially in her work with young people, looked after away from home in specialist foster settings.”

Ms Woodward died of cancer on October 8. She leaves behind her husband Gordon McLeod and daughter Suilven.