June 23, 2017, by Emma Thorne

Remembering Sally

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!


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