I first met Jean through her wonderful work which spans all four fields of TA application. I then met her in person at a UKATA (then ITA) conference in 2004 in Reading.
I had been fully committed to TA for two years by then, and was a contractual trainee, attending my first conference. I went to what was called an Institute (all-day workshop) run by Rosemary Napper and Trudi Newton and was thrilled to realise Jean was in the group. I was also slightly unnerved by it too!
I found myself in a syndicate group with Jean by chance (honestly, I didn’t elbow my way in!) and felt her warmth right from the start of our brief encounter. During that time, she found an opportunity to give me a bullseye stroke, one that she seemed intuitively to know was really going to land with me. I could pretend I don’t remember what it was ….. but I do because the impact of a stroke like that, from a person I completely respected has stayed with me and is with me still all these years later.
There followed encounters at many UK conferences (she was a big supporter of the IDTA conferences held from about 2003 to 2009) as well as conferences in San Francisco and Nashville, Edinburgh (where she celebrated her 80 birthday addressing the many who had come to wish her well by standing on a chair as she addressed us), and probably other places around the world too.
In a large open space process in the 2005 Edinburgh conference, I remember her quiet dignity and fortitude in the face of anger directed towards her from a participant. It was the day after the London bombing and its impact was keenly felt throughout that conference. She maintained a quiet presence when many of us wanted to jump to her Rescue. Which of course she didn’t need, as she herself managed the turbulence with grace and presence.
I remember her mischievous sense of humour – she made me laugh out loud in Nashville when I complimented her on her Halloween outfit. She promptly rolled up the waistband of her skirt in order to show off her legs! I can’t remember why this made me laugh so much, but it doesn’t matter, because this for me sums Jean up – her warmth and generous spirit made people feel good around her in ways it is hard to define.
She was a pioneer in the TA educational field. Her passion for educating parents and teachers, as well as TA practitioners was driven by her care for the younger generation – for their wellbeing and a desire for them to reach their full potential.
I was with her for the last time in Raleigh USA, 2019. She was physically frail, and mentally strong – asking me searching questions about myself and my TA practice, and sharing some of what was happening for her too. And once again, standing in the foyer of the hotel, a bullseye stroke from Jean to send me on my way with tears in my eyes.
She touched so many lives, and made them all the better for it.