Born in Northampton, England in 1931 to a ‘lower middle-class family’, Sylvia Tredwell pictured aged 29 with her eldest son Stephen, followed the social norms of the time which included leaving school at 16 to work as a shorthand secretary and later giving up work when she married to become a homemaker and mother to her 3 children Stephen, Susan and Michael.

While Sylvia later went on to have a successful and rewarding administration career where she was highly regarded, her family has often wondered if she had been born into different circumstances with the opportunity to attend university and gain formally recognised qualifications, how much more she might have achieved in her career.  They believe she would have most certainly ended up in a senior management role suited to her high level of intelligence and capability.

Sylvia’s return to the workforce and ensuing career began in 1973 when the young family emigrated to New Zealand and set up home in Hamilton. As the children were now all school-age, she worked in a number of administrative and reception roles for several years before the family moved back to Northampton in 1979.

Once back in England, Sylvia continued to work in administration, eventually ending up at British Gas where her common sense and no-nonsense approach to work and life prevailed over her lack of engineering experience and formal qualifications.  Her time there culminated in her managing a large team of Gas Engineers and their workload – a role that would have required a high level of specialised knowledge that she had gained over the years.

Even after her retirement from British Gas in the 1990s, she continued to enjoy working part-time for many years as an exam invigilator at several nearby tertiary institutions, something which gave her enjoyment and a continued purpose.

When Sylvia died in 2013 aged 82 years, she left a legacy her family is very proud of.  She displayed great resilience, tenacity, and an inherent level of practicality in her approach to her professional career and in overcoming the barriers and social preconceptions of the time.

It is with this in mind, that Sylvia’s family is offering the Women in Science Award in her memory so that someone else may be afforded the opportunities their mother didn’t, to pursue a career path of their choosing and reach their full potential.