My friend and colleague Wendy Parkin, who has died aged 84, was an academic who brought together studies of gender, sexuality, violence, age and organisations. But she also pursued a parallel career in social work with children and families.
Born in Bradford, Wendy grew up in Thornton, West Yorkshire, the daughter of Anne (nee Clay) and her husband, George Styan, an analytical chemist, who lectured at Bradford College. She attended Grange high school in Bradford, where she studied for three A-levels: biology, chemistry and mathematics.
When she left school she worked as a pathology laboratory technician, starting at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. In 1962 she married Malcolm Parkin, whom she had met through a mutual friend, and they settled in nearby Allerton. For a number of years Wendy continued as a laboratory technician, latterly at Bradford children’s hospital, until, in 1974 and at the age of 37, she decided to take a four-year course in applied social studies at Bradford University, qualifying in social work and gaining a first-class degree.
At her graduation ceremony the university chancellor, the former prime minister Harold Wilson, observed that “a mature student had done rather well”.
Thereafter Wendy pursued twin careers. As a social worker she specialised in child protection and later in intensive family centre work. But from 1993 to 2002 she also worked part-time as a senior and then principal lecturer in sociology and social work at the University of Huddersfield.
I had met Wendy at Bradford University, where as a young lecturer I had taught her during the later stages of her degree. Afterwards, we collaborated in research and writing, including the books “Sex” at “Work” (1987); Gender, Sexuality and Violence in Organizations (2001) and, most recently, Age at Work (2021). She was also a member of the Violence Against Children study group, which produced two books on child abuse and child protection.
Wendy retired from Huddersfield in 2000, and then used her skills in the voluntary sector by helping to set up a healthy living centre in Allerton, chairing an NHS patient participation group in Wilsden, near Bradford, and serving, until the age of 80, on a local clinical commissioning group. Throughout her life she had been an active volunteer in areas such as family planning, inner-city community development, homelessness and bereavement services.
Wendy was a wonderful person: caring, reliable, honest and radical in her thinking.
Her younger daughter, Alison, died in 2004, and Malcolm in 2010. She is survived by their other daughter, Carolyn, and grandchildren, Anna and Sebastian.
Source: Wendy Parkin obituary