A fitting farewell

I was both pleased and saddened to be one of many to celebrate the life of Dr Sheila Smith at her Humanist funeral in Nottingham this week. Her funeral was a fitting farewell, filled with poetry, folksong and fine words. Sheila was a feisty lecturer and tutor in the School of English at the University of Nottingham. Even in the 1980s, she was one of a rare breed of female academics. Her book lined study and her cheery no-nonsense manner welcomed all her students (including me) just as long as we had done our preparatory reading. She later became a member of a small poetry writing group that I also belonged to. We met monthly to share strenous discussion of our drafts in progress, to eat good homemade cakes and savour any poetic successes. Her wit and attention to detail made her a valued (if sometimes fearsome) member of the group. Her chapbooks Chalk and Cheese and Woman Surprised by a Young Boy are published by Shoestring Press.

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