Celebrating Mary Surridge’s long service at CIDT

Mary Surridge with Philip Dearden

Mary has now worked for 25 years at CIDT, with a total of 29 years at the University of Wolverhampton, her first few years working with Terry Withington in the Centre for Curriculum Development

In many ways Mary embodies the spirit and ethos of CIDT. Passionate, committed to change things for the better for those who miss out on living their lives to the full, and unwavering in her influencing others to do what is right, she has generated huge respect and a “Mary effect” wherever she goes. Part of the ‘Mary Effect’ is that people she works with end up joining us. Several CIDT staff applied for jobs after lengthy project work experience with Mary.

When she arrived at CIDT she went straight to work in Tanzania, which was her first experience of working in international development. She brought her already highly-recognised skills of adult learning, communication styles and curriculum development to the fore in a long term project with a Tanzanian livestock training college near Arusha. Typically, she is still in good touch with her Tanzanian counterpart from those days. From there she supported all CIDT staff to appreciate the importance of gender and social inclusion; to practice communication skills, all of which are now part of CIDT’s DNA.

Since those early days Mary has gone on to work in over 30 countries and take part in very strategic work for a range of significant organisations. Like so much of what CIDT does, our reputation is dependent on how we present ourselves to our partners. In this regard a very good example of the ‘Mary effect’ is the hugely impactful and successful education programme for the All-Age Schools in Jamaica. This programme set the direction for all the subsequent work that CIDT has done in the Caribbean, including our current large Caribbean Development Bank training programme and the redesign of the primary school curriculum for grade 1-9 pupils, where the impact of her incisive direction is being felt by every single school child in Jamaica.

Apart from Jamaica Mary has excellent experience in designing policies, strategies and activities to address discrimination on the basis of gender and to promote equal opportunities for women and men in the workplace. She has made a huge contribution in supporting national and international agencies such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and various International charities to develop and implement their own gender strategies and mainstreaming plans. Added to that she conducts gender analyses, audits and appraisals and is a gender trainer/capacity developer and gender trainer-trainer. She develops gender guidelines, manuals and online programmes. She is an experienced project manager and team leader and has become known as an evaluator for inclusion in education.

Despite being at an age where most people are thinking of retirement or have retired, her passion and enthusiasm means she is currently project manager for a portfolio of 3 long-term evaluation projects which use DFID and UNICEF funding, as well as working with the African Union Commission to support women into leadership and gender equity in leadership roles in the organisation.

A special long-service dinner was held last week which Mary sadly missed. In her absence Philip Dearden was presented with a certificate and gift for Mary from Professor Geoff Layer (below left). Phil later passed these onto Mary in CIDT (see main photo above).

At the event Philip Dearden provided the follow comments about Mary’s service with CIDT:

“It’s been lovely to celebrate Mary’s long service to CIDT. Mary has had a really positive influence on the development and direction of CIDT. During her time with us she’s had a huge impact on many CIDT staff, hundreds of students and on the very many organisations and agencies she has worked with. She is an exemplary model for any one working in international development.”

After the event Mary said:

“Although I had been a teacher trainer in the School of Education at the University since 1989, when I first began working for CIDT in 1991, my learning curve was so steep that it curved back on itself. Now 27 years later it is still that steep! Ever since I began in international development with CIDT, the work has been so varied, interesting, challenging and fulfilling that there has never been a dull day. It has been such a privilege to work with such an inspirational group of colleagues and with so many kind, patient and amazing people across the world. I am eternally grateful”.

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