Category Archives: Obituaries


Condolences for Professor Geoffrey Stephenson

It is with great sadness that we inform colleagues of the death of Geoffrey Stephenson (1939-2021).

Geoffrey established the Social Psychology Research Unit and the Board of Studies in Social Psychology at the University of Kent in 1978, and created its pathway to become the Institute of Social and Applied Psychology and ultimately both the School of Psychology and Tizard Centre.

Geoffrey was one of the UK’s foremost social psychologists in the 1970s and 80s and a leading figure in the formation and growth of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology, being elected its President from 1984-7. Following his retirement from Kent in 1998, he continued to be very active in research and teaching for a further decade.

A full obituary will be prepared in due course. Those wishing to convey messages of condolence and remembrance to his wife Astrid and children Lawrence, Kate and David are welcome to contact Professor Dominic Abrams:

In memory of Geoffrey, his family invite donations to be made in aid of Age UK Faversham and Sittingbourne via

Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura | Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance

Ivan Wills holding fish

Condolences for Ivan Wills

We were saddened to hear that Ivan Wills passed away after a long battle with illness.

Ivan worked for over 13 years as a Security Officer for the University and was a member of the Congregation Team for the majority of that time, a role which he particularly enjoyed. He pointed out on many occasions that watching the students graduate was what it was all about.

Ivan was a keen fisherman, a very proud grandfather and just a real character, who will be missed by all who knew him.

Campus Security Team


Condolences for Philip North

The University was very sorry to learn that Philip North died on 4 June, 2021, aged 72.

Dr North obtained his PhD from the University of Kent in 1979, on the topic of Statistical methods in ornithology. He was an active member of an Ecology Research Group, which predated DICE.

In addition through his research, links were established with the British Trust for Ornithology and the Centre d’Ecologie Fontionnelle & Evolutive, CNRS Montpellier, which are continued by the current members of the Statistical Ecology at Kent research group in SMSAS.

He became Director of the Applied Statistical Research Unit at Kent (subsequently ASRU Ltd), which for many years undertook consultancy with a range of pharmaceutical companies.

Words by Byron Morgan, SMSAS


Condolences for Will Simpson

Words by Helen Buhler

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Will Simpson on 7 July 2021.

Sadly, and unexpectedly, Will Simpson, the University of Kent’s second Librarian, died on 7 July  at home. Since succeeding Stephen Darlow, Kent’s Founding Librarian, after four years as his Deputy Librarian, Will’s time in the best office on campus was characterised by forward-thinking and efficient management, together with a deep dislike of red tape and paperwork. He was a major figure in the development of KLACS, Kent’s online circulation system, written by the Computing Lab’s Rod Saunders, which came into use in October 1976, and was the first in a British university library. This was eventually replaced by Cambridge’s cataloguing and circulation systems.

Will was also instrumental in fostering a relationship with the Cathedral Library, and was (together with Naomi Linnell and David Shaw) involved in the Cathedral’s online catalogue of pre-1801 printed books. The Templeman’s extension on its eastern side owed its initial planning to Will, aided by Margaret Smyth.

Always approachable and helpful, Will made the Templeman a very pleasant place to work. I have happy memories of those years. Needless to say, his retirement was marked by the Templeman’s best and biggest party!

Our condolences and thoughts go out to June and to their children, Harold, Lucy, and Victoria.

May Will rest in peace.



Condolences for Dr Jingqi Miao

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Dr Jingqi Miao on Friday 2 July.

Dr Miao was appointed as a Lecturer at the University in 2001 and she retired two years ago. She was a valued member of the School community and the sad news of her death has been deeply felt across it.

Dr Jingqi Miao

Jingqi joined us at a challenging time, when subjects like Physics were facing a shortfall in Higher Education funding. After taking up her academic post at Kent, Jingqi was immediately confronted with the task of increasing undergraduate student recruitment in Physics and Astronomy, a role she relished and made her own. The increase in recruitment that she helped generate set up the School on a path of substantial growth over the next decade.

She was successful in making a powerful case for renewing funding from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council to establish “Space School” which quickly became an annual SPS tradition. This event ran in the summer every year from 1999 (and was only suspended in 2020 due to COVID).

Jingqi’s research was appreciated across the world. Her work on the origin of stars, using computer simulations, will hold a special place in the future development of the subject. Her enthusiasm for her research was unwavering and transmitted to her students and collaborators.

All of her colleagues will always remember her as kind, modest, hardworking and devoted to her family. Well-liked and respected by all, she was the kind of colleague that made the School a better and happier place to be in.

A fuller tribute to Dr Jingqi Miao, by Dr Silvia Ramos and other members of the School of Physical Sciences, is available on the School website.


Condolences for Cynthia Hawes

One of the University’s very first employees, Cynthia Hawes, died in the Kent and Canterbury Hospital just before Christmas, having suffered a stroke at her care home in Wye. Many Former Staff Association (FSA) colleagues will remember her as a diminutive but feisty lady, who was always kind and encouraging while letting people know exactly what she thought about… anything.

Cynthia’s first contact with the University was in April 1963 when she was interviewed for the post of secretary to the first Vice-Chancellor, Geoffrey Templeman, at Westgate House in St Dunstan’s Street, which was all there was of the University at that time. Having worked for the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (as it then was), Cynthia was ideally qualified for the post, and she was duly appointed. As the Vice-Chancellor’s secretary, Cynthia was based first in Westgate House and then at Beverley Farm before moving to the Registry building when it was completed in 1970. After Geoffrey Templeman retired in 1980, Cynthia continued to work for the new Vice-Chancellor, David Ingram, until transferring to the Graduate Studies Office as an Assistant Registrar. She spent the early years of her retirement caring for her widowed father, who lived near to her in Harkness Drive.

Away from her professional duties, Cynthia was a keen rock climber in her youth and later a dedicated hill walker until arthritis curtailed these activities. She was a long-serving singer in the University Choir and the Canterbury Choral Society and a regular and devoted worshipper at the Cathedral. After retiring, she trained as a volunteer welcomer at the Cathedral and spent her Friday mornings patiently explaining to visitors – often in passable French, though she was not a linguist – what it was they were looking at. She was particularly interested in St Gabriel’s Chapel in the crypt and knew a great deal about the murals there.

Cynthia was born in North London in 1934 and spent the war years as a child in Barnet. She was a pupil at the Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in Barnet before going to Exeter University where she read history. She never married, but she was very close to her father and brother, and she had a wide circle of friends. She has a richly deserved place in the collective memory of the University as one of its founder members whose job placed her at the very centre of all that was happening in those early years. May she rest in peace.

Contributors: Mary Fox, Jane Millyard, John Butler


Condolences for Anne Seller

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Anne Seller, one of the first members of our academic staff, on Wednesday 11 November.

Anne Seller was appointed to a Lectureship in Philosophy in 1966, and helped to shape the profile of philosophy at Kent. Her speciality was political philosophy.

She was a member of Keynes and played an active part in the life of the college. She also played a central role in setting up the Women’s Studies graduate course at Kent.

Outside the University, Anne Seller also made an enormous contribution. Locally, she taught philosophy for children, working at the Orchard School, and served as Lady Mayoress of Canterbury in 2001-2.

On the national stage, she played a lead role in the Society for Women in Philosophy and took an active part in campaigning against siting Cruise missiles in the UK.

She spent a year teaching at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, where she continued to be a frequent visitor, and held a visiting appointment at Mother Teresa Women’s University in south India

A fuller tribute to Anne Seller, by Professor Richard Norman, Professor Sean Sayers and former student Professor Miranda Fricker FBA, is available on the Department of Philosophy webpages.

Canterbury campus, Senate view

Condolences for Dr Ian Stone

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Dr Ian Stone on Friday 10 July 2020.

Dr Stone was appointed Administrative Assistant in the Academic Division of the Registry in May 1978. He was then appointed Assistant Registrar in 1982 and by 1985 was Senior Assistant Registrar and Faculty Administrator for the Natural Sciences Faculty. In 1990 Dr Stone moved to the new Research Grants and Contracts Office, as Head, and worked there until he took early retirement in the mid-1990s.

Dr Stone then moved to the Isle of Man and, a scholar of polar studies, became Emeritus Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, being editor of the journal Polar Record for over ten years and publishing more than 60 articles.

Many University colleagues have expressed their sadness at Dr Stone’s death and have looked back with happy memories at a greatly esteemed and entertaining colleague, a very supportive manager and someone who was always ready for a competitive game of squash.

Dr Jeremy Ovenden, former Director of Planning and Student Information, writes: ‘Ian was one of those real characters that you are privileged to come across in your working life. Always entertaining, he delighted his colleagues with his little eccentricities and headed up a happy and motivated office. Yet beneath that exterior was an intelligent, knowledgeable and caring individual and I was grateful for his guidance on many occasions. He will be missed.’

Dr Stone will be remembered with immense fondness. The University expresses its condolences to his family.


Condolences for Gary Blundell

The University is very sad to report the death of Gary Blundell who has worked at Kent for more than 30 years – most recently as an operator and service desk analyst in Information Services.

John Sotillo, Director of Information Services writes: ‘Gary joined us in July 1989 and has given almost 31 years of dedicated service to the department and University. Many colleagues across the University have benefited from his thoughtful and measured support and this was recognised on a number of occasions through the departmental award scheme and at a University long service award event in 2014.

‘Gary’s most impressive achievement has been the wonderful feedback from customers. Those he helped really appreciated his patience, care and sense of humour. He was always willing to ‘have a quick look’ no matter what the issue, and as a result always highly appreciated by those he helped. He was an asset to the University and will be sadly missed.’

Funeral arrangements

Gary’s funeral will take place at Barham Crematorium, on Monday 13 July at 14.40. You can view the ceremony via webcast on the day, and for up to seven days afterwards. The login/order ID is 38968 and the password is hxpewadp. Further information is available in these webcast instructions from Wesley Media.

Gary Blundell (centre front, in navy shirt) at his 25th long service celebration


Kent logo

Condolences for Moreen Biron

Moreen Biron, a retired Tonbridge Centre tutor, passed away at home on Monday 9 December 2019.

Moreen’s broad knowledge of architecture, design and the decorative arts inspired students for over 30 years since the Tonbridge Centre was built in 1984. Her energy, enthusiasm and kindness was boundless, and she achieved much in a long life. Moreen made many friends through her association with the University of Kent, and she will be fondly remembered by all who worked with her or were taught by her.

Staff interested in sending condolences to her family, or attending her funeral (likely to be in mid-January 2020), should send cards internally to the Tonbridge Centre or email