We remember Steve Colwill, the AEP President from 1993-1995, who sadly died on February 10th aged 71.
Steve was born in Camelford, a small town in North Cornwall. He attended the local grammar school and it was here that he had a fortuitous meeting with Cornwall’s Chief Educational Psychologist, Peter Portwood, who encouraged Steve’s interest in psychology and this shaped the course of his professional life. Steve succeeded Peter as Chief Psychologist some twenty years later. Steve qualified as an educational psychologist at Swansea University in 1974 and he and his wife, Marion, moved to Devon where Steve took up his first post as an educational psychologist. From Devon they moved to Dorset where Steve was appointed senior educational psychologist. He returned to his beloved Cornwall in 1988 to become Chief Educational Psychologist and Head of Child and Family Services.
He was an enthusiastic supporter of inter professional working and the integration of children with special needs. Always an enthusiastic member of the AEP, Steve was elected to the Committee in the early 1980s and was Honorary Treasurer and Vice President before becoming President from 1991-93. These were difficult times for the profession. The 1988 Education Act brought about great changes in the organisation of education in England. The relationship between schools and local education authorities changed as the “market” was introduced into the system.
There was considerable concern that this restructuring might diminish the role of Educational Psychology Services within the LEAs and children with special needs would be disadvantaged. During his Presidency Steve worked with colleagues to raise the profile of the profession and the AEP in order that we might have a role in advising on government policy. Among other strategies Steve encouraged colleagues to develop links with Members of Parliament and the Lords.
These various strategies eventually succeeded in persuading government that EPs should remain part of the LEAs and their services should be free at the point of delivery. Steve ended his career as a PEP when he became Cornwall’s Assistant Director of Services for Children with Special Educational Needs: he retired in 2010. He continued his work as a member of the Special Needs and Disability Tribunal until 2019. He was also the Chair of Governors at one of Cornwall’s special schools for 10 years. In retirement Steve was able to focus on his other interests. He was a keen fly fisherman and loved nothing better than weekends fishing away in his camper van with his two sons. Steve was a Francophile and when he and Marion bought a holiday cottage in Brittany he was able to indulge his role as a Bon Vivant to the full. Steve was a very good cook. When returning home his car was laden with wine, charcuterie and cheese. Steve bore his final illness stoically and very bravely. He died peacefully at home on the banks of the Truro River surrounded by his family on 10th February 2021. He is survived by Marion, his wife of 50 years, his two sons, Jon and Simon, and four grandsons.
Richard Williams, Cornwall. Retired Senior Educational Psychologist and friend