Dear friend and academic colleague Dr Michele Raithby passed away at the end of March after a short but courageous battle with cancer. She leaves an indelible mark on social work education in Wales and on all who she worked with. Only the week before I had seen a joyful picture of her celebrating her marriage with Karen, at Swansea Registry Office from the 25th February.
Following a degree in Anthropology, Michele worked in a variety of educational, social care and research settings until qualifying with a Masters in Social Work from Oxford University in 1986. After practicing generically in London, Michele specialised in adult care, then the regulation and inspection of residential care settings before undertaking further research and moving into social work education. From 1997 to 2008, Michele worked at Nottingham Trent University, and was Deputy Head of Department and Programme Lead for part-time and distance-learning social work undergraduate degrees.
Since 2008 Michele worked at Swansea University initially as a Senior Lecturer but since 2017 as an Associate Professor and was Programme Director for the MSc in Social Work between 2014 and 2016. Michele was an impassioned advocate for students and was deservedly awarded the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016, for her ‘ability to communicate her subject with flair and passion’ as well as her ‘outstanding support of the professional and personal development of students. In 2017, Michele was awarded her PhD from Royal Holloway University of London on older people and domiciliary care.
I got to know Michele when she became external examiner to the MA in Social Work here at Cardiff University from 2013-17, where she became an immensely helpful critical friend. I also got to learn of her broader work with the service user group at Swansea University, although her research interests ranged on sexuality in social care and innovative approaches with older people as well as social work education. A piece of work that I found particularly inspiring was her combining interprofessional education with the involvement of people who use services and carers.
Michele will be a great loss to the world of social work in that she lived to her ideals. Quoted in the Western Mail talking about social work placements, Michele said “The students will interact with members of the public…They need to have good values and ethics, they need to be committed, and they need to know what they are letting themselves in for.” We send our condolences to her friends, family colleagues and student as well as remembering all those that have lost their lives in the current situation.
Abyd Quinn Aziz (Cardiff University) with Dr Christian Beech (Swansea University) and with the support of Karen, Michele’s wife.
 Terry, J., Raithby, M., Cutter, J., Murphy, F. 2015 A menu for learning: a World Café approach for user involvement and inter-professional learning on mental health Social Work Education 1 22
 Western Mail, January 2020