“One of the best”: Tributes paid to inspirational social worker Terry Bamford

Family, friends and colleagues remember the life of Terry Bamford, former Chair of BASW, and recognise his work and the lasting impact he had in social work.

17/05/21

“One of the best”: Tributes paid to inspirational social worker Terry Bamford

Influential figures have paid their tributes to “outstanding advocate for social work” Terry Bamford in an online memorial event for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

In February last year, family and friends gathered in Worthing to celebrate the life of the former BASW Chair, however a fuller memorial event was postponed due to the pandemic.

Terence ‘Terry’ Donald Bamford OBE was born in 1942 and gained a social work qualification from the Home Office probation course, where he met his wife, Margaret, who he married in 1965.

Terry got his first job as a Probation Officer in Mansfield, claiming he got the job as there was a shortage of women in the service. Margaret, who had also applied, was appointed and Terry would often joke that he “came as part of the package”.

Terry joined BASW in 1970 and served as Chair of BASW from 1982 to 1984 after a challenging period for the association – and social work profession – caused by the Thatcher Government. Current BASW Chief Executive Ruth Allen described him as “a rare kind of leader, always close to his social worker roots” and “a guiding light” for the organisation.

As a senior manager in social work, Terry had roles in Harrow Social Services, and as Director of Housing and Social Services in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Edward Hess, Family Judge in Wiltshire and Nominated Judge of the Court of Protection, who worked with Terry in Kensington and Chelsea, described him as “a man with substance and intellect, but also a man with fantastic courtesy and charm and modesty,” adding that he was “a great leader, but never with any bombast.” Lord Laming, a crossbench member of the House of Lords, said that as a leader Terry was “always willing to help others at times of pressure” and was an “outstanding advocate for social work, for social workers and for social work-users.”

Terry also served as Director of Social Services in the Southern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland during the height of ‘The Troubles’. Bill Halliday, former Director of the Disability Unit in the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, who worked with Terry during this time said his legacy in Northern Ireland was huge.

“We were privileged to have him, even for a short time,” Halliday said, adding that “Northern Ireland was all the poorer when [he and Margaret] left.”

Terry was also influential in International Social Work, in 2008 being awarded the IFSW Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol Medal in recognition of his distinguished service. Elis Envall, a social worker in Sweden and IFSW Global President from 1994-2000, said Terry was “crucial to the development of the profession globally and to the recognition that real social work is human rights.” Current IFSW General Secretary Rory Truell described Terry as an “elder statesperson” for international social work and a founding leader of the IFSW Human Rights Commission.

Terry was also a powerful voice for social work through his published books, including ‘Managing Social Work’ (Tavistock, 1982), ‘The Future of Social Work’ (Macmillan, 1990), ‘Commissioning and Purchasing’ (Routledge, 2001), and ‘A Contemporary History of Social Work: Learning from the Past’ (Policy Press, 2015). At the time of his death, Terry was in the final stages of co-editing a history of British social work with former BASW colleague Keith Bilton ‘Social work: past, present and future’ (Policy Press, 2020).

Picture: Terry Bamford and Margaret Bamford

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