Gordon Lakin, former Executive Director for
Teaching and Learning at Bradford College pays
tribute to Doris who died in June 2008:
“Doris Birdsall served as a Labour councillor for 22
years, until her retirement from politics in 1984.
She was awarded the CBE for her services to
politics and education in the same year.
Doris was an enormous friend of the College and was a significant influence on the character and role of the institution as it developed through the final thirty years of the last century and the early years of this one. She devoted much of her life to public service in Bradford being eminent in local politics, a long standing member of the Council and a year as Lord Mayor. She was a tremendous enthusiast, never doing anything by halves. Foremost amongst her enthusiasms were Bradford, education in Bradford and Bradford College.
She served on the College Governing Body and its committees for many years. She was particularly concerned that the College should function actively and successfully for the local community, and should be both a resource for local people seeking to improve their life opportunities and a resource for the local economy. She was an active supporter of the moves that began in the 1970s and that have continued through to the present day, to develop a ‘whole-College’ curriculum that offered ladders of opportunity through which people can progress from basic education to higher education and professional qualifications. She was a proponent of widening participation and lifelong learning before these terms ever gained standing nationally. She had a particular commitment to equality and to equal opportunity, and was a longstanding and active member of the joint governors’/academic board Equal Opportunities Committee. In this work she was eminent in the development of the College’s provision and services for people with learning difficulties and disabilities and much of our excellent work in this area today is a consequence of Doris’s vision, commitment and energy.
She took a real interest in the day-to-day life of the institution and was a regular and frequent visitor. She was always pleased to attend exhibitions, awards ceremonies and other occasions when the institution was ‘on show’ and was well-known by both students and staff. Through her many contributions to the development of the College she touched the lives of many generations of students. She was always an excellent ‘critical friend’ to the management of the institution, and through her interest and support she will be remembered with respect and admiration by many generations of College staff at all levels.”
Photograph courtesy of Bradford Council