Jenny Warner obituary

My friend Jenny Warner, who has died aged 87, was a speech therapist and one of the three founding members, in the mid-1970s, of the faculty in speech pathology and therapy at the University of Manchester. There she combined clinical practice with lecturing and writing academic papers and practical works.

Born in Kuala Lumpur in Malaya (now Malaysia), Jenny escaped the Japanese occupation of the country with her mother, Winifred (nee Herbertson), a secretary, at the age of six. After making their way to Singapore, they secured passage to Britain on the last evacuation ship to leave, in January 1942. Her father, Stanley Warner, who served in the RAF, rejoined the family in August of that year but was killed a few months later during a German bombing raid while he was a patient at the RAF officers’ hospital based at the Palace hotel in Torquay, Devon, in 1942.

Having had no formal education up to that point, Jenny became a boarder at Christ’s Hospital school in Hertford, later studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

Afterwards Jenny worked for Birmingham city council as a speech therapist (1957-60) before returning to the Central School of Speech and Drama (1960-1975) as a lecturer in speech pathology and therapeutics. While there she also took on part-time speech therapist roles at St Thomas’ hospital and with the Inner London Education Authority’s autistic unit. In 1975 she spent a year as the full-time chief speech therapist at St Thomas’ before joining the new faculty in speech pathology and therapy at Manchester University, where, among other things, she wrote manuals for various charities, including Mencap, for whom she provided guidance on the feeding challenges faced by parents of children with learning disabilities.

Jenny was elected as a fellow of the College of Speech and Language Therapists in 1992 and subsequently, just before her retirement from Manchester in 1998, she made British Council funded trips to Tanzania and Kenya, training people in geographical areas where speech therapy services were then seriously restricted. She also served as a governor for two special needs schools in the north-west of England.

Though a naturally modest person, Jenny was a terrific raconteur. Friends enjoyed her sharply observed stories, which she sometimes embellished with her mastery of regional accents. A cat lover, she also cherished her garden, along with the birds and other small animals that visited it regularly.


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