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Dorothy Radwanski

Nursing leader and consultant to the Government and HM Prison Service;

Born: January 31, 1928; Died: December 29, 2012.

Dorothy Radwanski, who has died aged 84, was a pioneer in the training of occupational nurses and a former advisor to the Health and Safety Executive. She worked as a consultant to the Department of Employment and Her Majesty's Prison Service and her advice was sought by many in the UK and abroad.

She was born in Ayr and attended Hutchesons' Girls Grammar School in Glasgow. She was uncertain about whether to have a career in art or nursing but eventually entered nursing training at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow in 1947, becoming a registered general nurse and then subsequently a state-certified midwife at the Royal Maternity Hospital. She held various posts in Scotland before moving to London and obtaining her occupational health nursing certificate in 1957.

Her first key post in occupational health nursing was as nursing superintendent in the Central Middlesex Occupational Health Service. Later she was nursing superintendent at both HJ Heinz and British Leyland.

In 1969, she was invited by Professor Alex Mair at the University of Dundee to lead a new course for occupational health nurses. She established a course that was recognised nationally and internationally; this resulted in a group of nurses in Scotland and many other places, who went to posts in industry, the health services, government and commercial settings, where they put into practice what they had seen and learned from Dorothy.

She encouraged them to set for themselves the same high standards. She was the perfect tutor – firm, yet always understanding and then subsequently the role turned to friend – one who could always be relied on for help and advice. She maintained a wide network. Through her, the status of the occupational health nurse was enhanced, and woe betide any doctor who failed to acknowledge this.

After Dundee, she was appointed chief employment nursing advisor to the Health and Safety Executive from 1974 to 1983. She was equally at home working with ministers and civil servants drafting legislation as advising a lone and unsupported occupational health nurse. Subsequently, as a consultant, she brought her critical eye to the Department of Employment and then HM Prison Service.

Her outstanding contribution to nursing was recognised in 1981 when she was given the highest honour of the Royal College of Nursing – its Fellowship, a very special and rare honour.

In 1960 she married Jozef Radwanski, a decorated Polish pilot who transferred to the RAF during the Second World War.

For Dorothy and Jo retirement in Glasgow did not mean taking life easy. Far from it. Dorothy worked as a volunteer guide at the Burrell Collection and enrolled in creative writing and computing classes.

She and Jo attended many art exhibitions and political changes in eastern Europe meant it became easier to visit Jo's family in Poland.As Jo's health deteriorated, Dorothy devoted her time to caring for him at home, which to her great satisfaction she was able to do until his death in 1999.

Dorothy and Jo enjoyed a happy marriage but they had very different political views. Because of her for respect for Jo's views, it was only after his death that Dorothy became involved in the Labour Party.

Brought up in the Christian Brethren, Dorothy's faith was central to her life and provided a moral framework for dealing with people and problems. Her spiritual journey took her to several branches of the church and resulted in a very ecumenical outlook.

In Glasgow she joined Darnley United Free Church where she had many friends. For several years she produced the church magazine and loved the discussions and fellowship at bible studies.

Many will remember her most for her words of encouragement and acts of kindness, offering hospitality, sharing her wisdom and giving a gentle – or sometimes not-so-gentle – push in the right direction to those who sought her counsel. To all aspects of her life she brought the same enthusiasm and imagination, the same humour and fun.

She was predeceased by her husband and her three siblings and is survived by a nephew and a niece.

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