June 23, 2017, by Emma Thorne
She was loved by many as Nottingham’s Maid Marian, but in her ‘day job’ Sally Pollard was a talented researcher in human genetics and dedicated teacher at the University of Nottingham. Her death at the age of 39 from cancer is a great loss for her friends, family and colleagues. Dr Paddy Tighe, Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences, pays tribute to a life lived to the full but ended too soon.
Sally Pollard (Sally Chappell) came to Nottingham in 1998 as a PhD student working with Dr Linda Morgan on genetic links in pre-eclampsia. Two post-doctoral positions followed, working with Prof Noor Kalsheker and Prof Kevin Morgan on genetic aspects of COPD and subsequently paediatric liver disease. She was the founder and programme lead for the MSc Molecular Genetics & Diagnostics (2006-2012) which led to a successful lectureship application and Sally’s appointment as Lecturer in Human Molecular Genetics in 2006.
Sally was not just an excellent researcher, but an enthusiastic and skilled teacher too. Sally was programme lead for the MSc in Clinical Sciences (Clinical Genetics) Masters Course, and convening multiple modules on other courses. As you might expect, Sally always got excellent student reviews of her lectures and modules, she was innovative, introducing electronic student engagement and feedback systems, such as Peerwise and Socratic into her lectures and modules long before they became more widely used. I remember working hard with her to generate the first accessible podcasting system for lecture capture for use with the school’s diverse Masters courses, years before Echo appeared at the University. Sally received a very well deserved Lord Dearing Award in 2010 for all her many efforts in teaching innovation.
Outside of her University role, Sally had another role to play which touched many more peoples lives over the years. Sally was Nottingham’s official Maid Marion, playing and dressing for the role at official events and re-enactments for more than 12 years and in the process meeting her husband Tim Pollard, who has been Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood for more than 20 years. Sally and Tim were married in September 2016 and they have a beautiful daughter, three-year-old Scarlett.
Sally had many friends in the University, and I think I speak for all of them when I say that she was immense fun to be with, full of energy and with an uncanny knowledge of exceptional beers.
Sally was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and despite the best treatment and care, died too young, aged 39, on Friday 16th June 2017, at her home, with her family. Throughout all the treatments Sally had an amazingly strong and positive attitude, which has left a lasting impression on us all.
We will all miss her contributions to the University, and more so, I and all her friends will especially miss her at social events, especially on our nights out. Her loss has saddened us all beyond measure.
Sally’s husband Tim asked us all remember her by supporting charitable funding for cancer research and to raise a glass to celebrate a truly lovely person and a vibrant life.
So, cheers Sally, here’s to you!
Thank you so much, Paddy. Sal loved her work with a passion and her colleagues equally.
She found it really difficult having to step away from supervising her students and even when desperately ill Sal was still hoping to return; the day after she died the postman delivered a pass certificate from an online learning course. With Distinction, of course, as Sal never did anything with less than 100% enthusiasm and commitment.
Thank you again for such a wonderful and heartfelt tribute, and to everyone who send cards, flowers and condolences.
Tim and Scarlett
Sally was a truly amazing person. She was talented and was a rock to all of us who worked with her. I will always remember your smile which was so welcoming. You always found solutions to problems-what a refreshing positive outlook you had. The students loved you, we loved you. You will be in our thoughts for now and forever.
What a wonderful person Sal was – it’s been my joy and privilege to know her and work with her for almost 20 years. We first appreciated that we had somebody rather unusual in the lab when we noticed multiple bruises on her arms one Monday morning – the result of a re-enactment of a Civil War battle on the previous Saturday. Sally was appalled when somebody queried whether her role was to prepare 17th century food for the warriors – she had of course been right in the thick of the battle with sword and musket. That’s the sort of commitment that Sal brought to everything, including her teaching and her research. A few days after she died a paper on the genetics of pre-eclampsia, co-authored by Sally, was published in Nature Genetics – a fitting accolade for a true scientist. Thank you for everything Sal – there are so many people who will miss you.