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Ripples, Shepherdesses and Learning to Make a Difference

As we all feel the sadness and the shock of the death of lovely Kate Beresford, I asked to share some personal perspectives so Kate’s family get a deep sense of what a difference she made to so many in her life time, and undoubtedly beyond.

I didn’t know Kate well. In fact, hardly at all, but she touched me with encouragement in moments I might have stalled. Kate’s work and commitment have had a ripple effect on my work and life and the students and colleagues I’ve served in my role as an Enterprise Educator at Lancaster University.

She was described by a mutual colleague on the ‘Just Giving Page’ as her ‘real life shepherdess’. We all need one of those. I’ve experienced that same shepherd and shepherdess guidance from a number of wonderful people at EEUK, and from Kate herself too.

I know over the years many committed and progressive board members have come and gone, shaping the organisation and with it the flock; enabling us to understand the work and ourselves just a little better, to keep doing the work that matters.

But in all of that time the one defining presence for me as I dipped in and out of EEUK events and opportunities was Kate; to me she was the external face and perhaps the heart of the organisation. Every worthwhile organisation seems to have at least one a constant; a face and a heart facing out.

In 2016 I was one of the first lucky recipients of the Richard Beresford Award.  My big question in my Bursary application was was, ‘How do we as educators facilitate creative and collaborative learning if no one shows us how?’ Winning the Bursary was the first £500 investment to get me on the journey to The Hasso Plattner Insititue of Design (d.School) at Stanford University in California USA.  My aim was to learn through experience, how the team

there develop educators and students as innovators and agents of change.

After I received the Bursary, Kate emailed me; shepherdess crook in hand,  she gently encouraged me to reach out to seek the top up funding to make the trip a reality; It was definitely a story she wanted to tell.

It was Kate’s very personal validation that enabled me to nudge forward. Sharing my story and vision I was able to gain the support of some Lancaster ‘good eggs’ to fund the pilgrimage to the Stanford d.School, Teaching and Learning Studio.

It was an amazing, terrifying and transformational experience on every level. For three days I was (willingly) way out of my comfort zone and deep in the learning zone; the way in which the team there modelled the facilitation of 55 educators in discomfort, uncertainty, and learning by doing, meant I could  feel the fear and do it anyway. It gave me the creative confidence, the tools and resources to set the scene for enterprise learning in creative, collaborative and inclusive ways.

Survival mindsets skills as an educator are invaluable. I learned to craft educational ‘sneaky little experiments’ to innovate and grow. I left with me permission to embrace failure as learning; and I lived to tell tale for Kate.

Like most humans I still fear failure. I’m still learning to leveraging collective intelligence, creativity and action;  in a largely individualistic educational experience, this collective endeavour is the biggest gift of enterprise and entrepreneurship learning.

Kate knew that learning to make a difference takes leadership for collaboration, teamwork, and community. I’ve heard EEUK described many times as a family and always felt part of it even through long absences.

What I do know is that I couldn’t have progressed my work to date, and the work to develop human agency and potential that we all care about, without all of us together, and definitely not without Kate.

‘This is the experience you’ve always needed even if you’ve never realised it. It makes you feel powerful and excited and capable. You work as a team, a community and you solve problems using all the skills you didn’t realise you have. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you know, this will make you better.’

(Student Feedback – Work in Progress Engagement Academy December 2022)

Thanks to Kate’s  family for sharing her with ours. From me and our team at Lancaster University’s Work in Progress, our thoughts with you at this difficult time.

Amanda Brooks

Enterprise Education Development Manager

Lancaster University