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Sheila Foley, (1950-2006)

Sheila Foley

Sheila Foley died on Sunday 3rd September aged 56, after 25 years with the University.

Sheila joined Cardiff on 1 March 1981 to work as a divisional secretary within the School of Engineering, where colleagues regarded her as a highly valued, highly respected, excellent secretary. She was a vital part of the Civil Engineering team - a team that achieved so much academic success over the years. Sheila was a consummate professional, who accomplished all tasks to an extremely high standard. Many staff considered her as a friend and will remember her for her warmth rather than her undoubted efficiency; she always had time for colleagues, many of whom would call into the office at the end of the day just to catch up; and for her sense of fun, a practical joker with a keen sense of mischief.

Sheila had a great affinity with young people and much of her role was spent providing support to the School’s students — always positive, always helpful, no problem ever too large to solve. In the early part of her career she helped develop the School’s involvement in Science Week, and its growing programme of liaison activities with schools and colleges. A skilled co-ordinator, Sheila invested a great deal of time and care in supporting arrangements for summer school activities, which were enjoyed by many budding engineers. Sheila was also a key organiser of the Annual Welsh Young Engineers for Britain Awards, held for many years at the St Mellons Country Club. This was an invitation for local school students to use their imagination to create, design and develop an original idea for a commercially viable device or system to meet everyday needs.

In 2003, Sheila took up the post of Institute Secretary at the Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Ethics (CISHE) within the School of Social Sciences. Sheila played a key role in the successful establishment of CISHE, transforming an empty building in Park Place to a thriving research centre with over 30 staff and postgraduate students in less than 3 years. Sheila took on a multitude of roles during this challenging and exciting period, and more than anyone else ensured the creation of a warm, friendly atmosphere appreciated by staff and visitors alike. As the staff numbers grew, Sheila’s insistence on baking ever larger cakes for every birthday became quite a challenge, yet the quality of the excellent product never diminished, much to everyone’s enjoyment.

Professionally, her work was always of extremely high quality and her ability to turn her hand to almost anything, and to anticipate and deal with potential problems almost before they arose, was highly valued by all of her colleagues. Everyone who knew Sheila will remember her as one of the kindest people they have ever known, her kindness matched by an excellent sense of humour and exceptional loyalty and trustworthiness.

Sheila died after a year long battle with cancer, throughout which her capacity to remain cheerful, and to think of others before herself, was quite outstanding. Sheila will be deeply missed and will be remembered with warmth and affection by her many colleagues throughout the University, by former students, and by her many friends. Our thoughts and best wishes are extended to her husband Mike, two daughters and two grandchildren.