Obituary: Margaret Talbot

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of former LSA Chair, Margaret Talbot, in December 2014. Jonathan Long and Geoff Nichols reflect on her life for the LSA Blog.

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Jonathan Long (Leeds Beckett University)

I first met Margaret at a Leisure Studies Association conference and she subsequently became Chair of the Association.  Margaret subsequently joined us on the editorial board of the LSA’s journal, Leisure Studies.  We then joined Leeds Polytechnic within a matter of weeks of each other when Margaret came to be head of the then Carnegie Department.

Under her leadership the Carnegie Department launched its first Masters programme, bringing together its scientists and social scientists (MA Leisure and Human Potential), established an HND programme; developed early Erasmus student exchanges for PE, tourism and leisure; and set-up the Carnegie National Sport Development Centre and the Centre for Leisure and Sport Research. During that time too the ethos of the department was redirected to be more inclusive.

Several of us found that we were not just pushing at an open door, but had an active supporter in Margaret for our efforts to establish matters of equality at the heart of our research and teaching.  Today’s Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Leeds Beckett University owes much to her efforts to build an interest here in gender studies and issues of social justice more generally.

Then she left Leeds Metropolitan University, Margaret went to head the Central Council of Physical Recreation and then the Association of Physical Education.

Others may know her as President of the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women or as Chair of the Education Committee of the International Paralympic Committee or as President of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education.  In recognition of her many contributions Margaret was awarded the OBE, but of course that pales into insignificance against a lifetime achievement award at the Leeds Sports Awards!

There are many who have cause to be grateful to Margaret for her hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.

Geoff Nichols (University of Sheffield)

Margaret combined being highly respected as an academic in leisure studies while at the same time working to practically further causes she believed in; notably, the promotion of sports participation and redressing inequalities. I first worked with her while her role was split between being a professor at Leeds Metropolitan University and managing the university sports facilities. Later I was commissioned to produce work for her in her role as CEO of the Central Council or Physical Recreation [which is now the Sport and Recreation Alliance] promoting the interests of the voluntary sector in sport.

She valued the independence of this sector and likened the structure of community sports clubs and national governing bodies of sport to a flower; a valuable legacy which had to be protected and nourished. In this role she was in her element; equally happy talking to politicians and volunteers running small NGBs with 2 people and a dog.  She had a delightful ability to speak to anybody. She once reprimanded me for a too curt note to an NGB representative – in the nicest possible way, and she was right! She was a role model in many ways.

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