Hazel Dewart (1949-2014)

Two tributes.

It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Hazel Dewart on 7th November 2014. Hazel will be well known to many BPS members, especially for her time as Head of the Psychology Department at the University of Westminster. Hazel grew up in County Antrim, and gained a psychology degree from Queens University Belfast in 1970, and her PhD from University College in 1975. She went on to teach at the Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD), before moving to the University of Westminster in 1994. Hazel became Head of the Psychology Department at Westminster in 1997, and she continued in this post until her retirement in 2013. Hazel was a qualified Clinical Psychologist, and her early research involved language disorders. In the late nineteen eighties she published (along with Susie Summers) the Pragmatics Profile, which has been widely used ever since in the assessment of children with language problems and translated into several other languages. Hazel also contributed chapters to two cognitive psychology books which I edited in more recent years.

I first met Hazel in the nineteen eighties, when we were both teaching psychology to Speech Therapy students at CSSD. In the nineties she came to the University of Westminster, where she subsequently became Head of Department. I was the deputy Head at the time, and the two of us worked together for almost twenty years. Hazel was a brilliant Head of Department. She was very well organised and efficient, but more important she was very fair minded and caring towards her staff, and this ensured a happy department where everyone got on well with everyone else.

I discovered that Hazel was a genuinely lovely person, and we became good friends as well as colleagues.

Several years ago Hazel discovered that she had cancer, and over the next few years she had to undergo extensive treatment. She faced this with great courage and cheerfulness. For a time I had to take over from Hazel as acting Head of Department, and during that time I dealt with every problem by asking myself "What would Hazel have done?"  It always seemed to work.

Hazel’s colleagues all had tremendous respect for her, but (more unusual for a Head of Department) they all felt a great deal of affection for her. Hazel was a delightful person, and we will all miss her very much. I am very glad to have had the privilege of being her colleague and her friend. 

David Groome

 

It is with great sadness that we pay tribute Hazel Dewart.

Hazel grew up in County Antrim, and gained a psychology degree from Queens University Belfast in 1971 before coming to London where she settled for the rest of her life.  She completed her doctorate on children’s language comprehension at University College, under the supervision of David Green.  This work led on to the award of a postdoctoral fellowship to work with child language expert, Rick Cromer, at the MRC’s Developmental Psychology Unit.  This was the heyday of developmental psychology in London and rubbing shoulders with giants like Neil O’Connor and Beate Hermelin, not to mention glamorous social occasions organized by Rick, led Hazel to a career which would embrace language, development and its disorders. 

Her first appointment was to a lectureship at the Central School of Speech and Drama.  In the early 1980s, Speech and Language Therapy was becoming a graduate profession and Hazel was a perfect fit for a department moving from the training of therapists to their education.  Hazel was one of the figures who eased this transition, staying quietly firm to her ideals and ensuring academic rigour without sidelining professional expertise.  She enjoyed much fruitful collaboration whilst at the school and her contributions to professional practice included the development of the Pragmatics Profile (along with Susie Summers), which has been translated into several languages and is widely used in the assessment of children with language problems. 

After many years at the Central School, Hazel made a move back to her roots in Psychology at the University of Westminster, where she subsequently became Head of Department. Hazel was brilliant at this, well organised and efficient, but more importantly, fair minded and caring towards her staff.  She commanded huge respect and affection in a very happy department.  In the later part of her career, Hazel pursued training in clinical psychology; she used this effectively to bring many important insights both to scholarship and leadership and more generally to teaching and learning.  She also contributed much professional service to the British Psychological Society, on several boards, as a panel member for accreditation visits and most recently, on a group considering new ways of working in applied psychology training. 

Several years ago Hazel discovered that she had cancer, and she had to undergo extensive treatment. She faced this with great courage and cheerfulness and was a source of strength to her family and friends whilst holding on to her quiet Irish sense of humour.   

Hazel was a delightfully warm person; we were lucky to have known her, and we will all miss her enormously.  She leaves her husband Paul, children Thomas, Patrick, Anna and Joseph and grandson Elijah, whom she loved greatly. 

Maggie Snowling and Linda Pring

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