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The BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2015

Professor Peter Coleman

At the BSG Annual Conference in July 2015 the Society celebrated an annual lifetime achievement award for a significant and lasting contribution to British Gerontology first received in 2007  by Professor Alan Walker.  The award was given to Peter Coleman, Professor of Psychogerontology and Associate Member of the Centre for Research on Ageing at the University of Southampton.

Peter has been a long-term member of the Society since the 1970s. A psychologist by first discipline, he pioneered the development of the Post-Qualifying Course (Certificate and Masters) in Ageing, Health and Social Care for Health and Social Services professionals running from 1977- 1992 and leading to their ongoing Masters programme. In relation to research he is a national and international research expert in the field of reminiscence and life review, and spirituality & religion. He was Editor of the Journal, Ageing & Society (CUP) between 1992 and 1997, and also edited the BSG text Ageing in Society first with John Bond in 1990 and then with John and Sheila Peace for the second edition in 1993.

Peter is a thoughtful, hardworking and conscientious member of the Society whose work addresses important and under-researched aspects of quality of life for people in later life.

The BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2014

Professor Malcolm Johnson

The British Society of Gerontology is delighted to announce that the BSG Outstanding Achievement Award was this year awarded to Professor Malcolm Johnson, Visiting Professor in Gerontology and End of Life Care in the Department of Social &Policy Sciences at the University of Bath.

Established in 2007, the award is made annually to an individual or organisation that, in the opinion of the judges, has made a significant and lasting contribution to British Social Gerontology.

Professor Johnson has been a long-standing member of the Society, now in its 43rd year and was one of its first Honorary Secretaries. He was instrumental in transforming the organisation from a small scale network of academics to a fully-fledged, well organised national and international learned society.  Between 1984 and 1995, he was Professor of Health & Social Welfare and first Dean of the School of Health & Social Welfare at the Open University before moving to a senior position at Bristol University, where he is now Emeritus Professor. He is a former Secretary of the BSA Medical Sociology Group He was also the founding Associate Editor of Sociology of Health & Illness. He has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at several North American and European universities.

In terms of contribution to social gerontology, his influence has been widespread. He produced a number of courses in gerontology at the Open University during the 1980s and 1990s and as head of the Faculty, Professor Johnson played a significant part in the resourcing and launching of these courses.  He helped to establish the highly respected journal Ageing and Society, and as its first editor, he played a major part in establishing British gerontology as a respected and viable discipline. His role in producing the Cambridge Handbook on Age and Ageing in 2005 and his many research and policy based writings have ensured that the Society and therefore social gerontology have sustained a strong national and international profile, helping to lay the foundations for the work continued by the society to this day.

The BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2013

Prof Bleddyn Davies

The award is made annually to an individual or organisation that, in the opinion of the judges, has made a significant and lasting contribution to British Social Gerontology. In particular, the award is made to an individual or organisation that has made a significant impact on the policy process and through this helped improve the quality of life of older people.

Who are the judges? A Small panel comprising James Goodwin (Age UK), Tony Maltby (Sheffield 50+), Robin Means, Sheila Peace and David Sinclair (ILC). I am very grateful to them and Rachel Hazelwood for ensuring that the process went smoothly.

As chair of the panel I was delighted to announce the winner of the 2013 award Prof Bleddyn Davies.


Bleddyn has a long distinguished and continuing career in the fields of social gerontology and social policy. It is impossible in a short introduction to do justice to the reach, depth and impact of Bleddyn’s. (His own assessment of it runs to 70 pages). There are numerous books – more than 20 with landmark status. There are over 150 scholarly papers.

He has held a large number of key government advisory roles – including to two pillars of UK post-war social democracy, Richard Crossman and Anthony Crosland. There are many other high level policy roles e.g. with the Seebohm, Plowden, Layfield committees and the Labour Party. There are honours – an OBE, an honorary doctorate and a lifetime achievement award from the American Public Health Association.

In many and various lasting ways Bleddyn has contributed substantially to social policies which improve the life of older people – a stipulation for this award. In doing so Bleddyn is probably best known as Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent and founder director of the PSSRU – a post he held for very nearly 3 decades. For the last 10 years he has been emeritus professor at LSE and Kent and Professorial Research Fellow in Oxford.

Establishing the PSSRU and its LSE and Manchester branches represent a massive contribution to social care research, leading to major advances in knowledge policy and practice concerning social care and the support of older people.  But Bleddyn has done much more, including helping to build capacity among countless early career researchers (a large group of whom have gone on to become professors).

He has been a long term staunch supporter of the BSG, encouraging PSSRU colleagues to join and to present their work at the annual conferences.

My own appreciation and respect for Bleddeyn’s research began nearly 40 years ago when I read two of his books published in 1968 and 1972 respectively– Social Needs and Resources and Variations in Services for the Aged – both recommended by Peter Townsend (no higher recommendation I think). I still recall being overawed by their complexity and the enormous detail and the painstaking data trawling and analyses in those books. They were impressive and daunting, definitely not easy reads and clearly major works of social policy. While they were not my personal cup of tea, I valued them as highly significant contributions to social policy. Also I thought then, and still do, how fortunate it is that a social researcher and statistician as skilfully accomplished and tenacious as Bleddyn had chosen to take on the essential work of data analysis and theory building on the topic of territorial justice. (What has become known colloquially as the post-code lottery).

This path breaking research could have been enough for one distinguished career, but he went on to also grapple with the knotty social policy dilemma of universalism vs. selectivity, and then application of econometric models to social care in the production of welfare thesis.

In summary then, there is no question that Bleddyn Davies is eminently worthy of the highest award the BSG can bestow. Not surprisingly the judges were both instant and unanimous in selecting him.

Alan Walker

The BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2012

Bill Bytheway

The 2012 BSG Outstanding Achievement Award was given to Bill Bytheway.

Bill’s career is an illustration of outstanding achievement. Between 1963 and 1975 he was a statistician in medical research units at the University of Aberdeen and published articles in medical and sociology journals. He moved to the Centre for Social Science Research at Keele in 1970 as Assistant Director; an interest in ageing and old age had begun to emerge and his PhD in sociology was awarded in 1973.

In 1975, Bill made the courageous move to exchange his permanent post for a series of fixed term contracts in the University of Wales and at the Open University. These fixed term contracts seemed to liberate Bill, between 1975 and 1990 he produced four edited books, twelve chapters and ten articles in refereed journals. He was eventually given a permanent contract in 2005. Arguably it was as a Senior Research Fellow at the Open University from 1997 that Bill really blossomed. His first single authored book Ageism was published 1997 (OUP) and was well recived, including a translation into Danish. Fifteen chapters appeared in edited books and 12 articles in refereed journals between 1997 and 2010, followed by a second single authored book, Unmaking Age, in 2011.

Many of Bill’s research projects were externally funded. Between 1974 and 1997 he secured 14 grants, including from the Birmingham Council for Old People the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association, Government Departments and the SSRC/ESRC. At the OU he has been a member of the Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies and in this capacity has since 1997 secured substantial grants from the Department of Health and ESRC.

Publications and research grants are only part of Bill’s profile. With colleagues at the OU he has produced a wealth of teaching materials for courses, including An Ageing Society; Learning Disability: Working as Equal People; Health and Disease; and Care, Welfare and Community. Throughout his career, he has engaged with teaching programmes, running courses on research methods, medical sociology and social gerontology. His track record in social gerontology was formally recognised in his appointment as an Academician in the Academy of Social Sciences in 2006.

With regard to his contribution to the British Society of Gerontology? He was a founder member and sat on the Executive Committee from its foundation until 1979, being Secretary/Treasurer between 1975 and 1979, serving again as Treasurer between 1985 and 1990. From 1997-2001 he edited Ageing & Society and he is currently on the Board of the Journal of Ageing Studies. Throughout, he has been a critical friend of the Society.

The judges very conscious of not only Bill’s significant contribution to ageing research and public education on ageing but also his commitment to the involvement of older people in research- exemplified in the ROAD project – Research on Age Discrimination. This research and his seminal book ‘Ageism’ have influenced the thinking of academics and students but also policy makers and practitioners.

In sum Bill characterises everything that is best about the BSG: dedication to scientific research and teaching, commitment to the direct involvement of older people and the pursuit of public engagement to campaign against social exclusion and social injustice- in this case on the vital topic of age discrimination.

Alan Walker

BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2011


After much discussion, and in this our 40th anniversary year, the BSG Outstanding Achievement Award 2011 was presented at this year’s Annual Conference in Plymouth to three giants in the field of social gerontology: Professors Sara Arber, Chris Phillipson and Tony Warnes. All three of them are truly outstanding academics who are known globally. All three have contributed to British social gerontology in different but very important ways.

Sara Arber is Co-founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender at the University of Surrey. She has made numerous major scientific contributions on gender and informal care giving, health, pensions and, latterly, sleep in later life. Her research on gender and ageing with Jay Ginn is seminal and widely regarded as such. She currently leads a large NDA project on sleep. She was previously President of both the BSA and the ISA Research Committee on Ageing. Sara has also played a substantial role in training the next generation of researchers, with 39 PhD completions to her name. Hers is a remarkably deep and wide-ranging contribution.

Chris Phillipson is founder and previous Director of the Centre for Social Gerontology at Keele University. He was President of the BSG from 2004-06. Chris has made major academic contributions across a wide front of gerontology: the social construction of ageing, retirement, older workers, urban ageing and critical gerontology. Unusually Chris has made significant contributions to both theoretical development and policy/practice applications in gerontology. He has generated a huge publication list of high quality outputs that shows no sign of waning. He has also been an active campaigner for older people’s rights for many years. This represents an enormous contribution to social gerontology in the UK and globally.

Tony Warnes was instrumental in establishing both the Age Concern Institute of Gerontology at King’s and the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing. He has made a massive contribution to the BSG and wider gerontology, perhaps most importantly through his 23 year association with the journal Ageing and Society, during which time he orchestrated a huge increase in its productivity, a broadening of its content and an increased international profile. Tony is one of the founders of environmental gerontology and his 17 year collaboration with Maureen Crane has benefited some of the most deprived older people in the UK. He is a past President of the BSG, was influential in establishing the Averil Osborn Fund and has played a major role in raising the profile of social gerontology.
Our heartfelt congratulations go to all three of them as do our thanks for their continuing support of the Society.

In 2010  the BSG Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Professor Anthea Tinker for her contribution to British Social Gerontology. Professor Tinker has undertaken a wide range of research in the field of social policy, specialising since 1974, in gerontology. She has carried out research on community care, a large number of national studies on housing for older people (including introducing assistive technology into older people's homes and remodelling sheltered housing and residential care homes to extra care), carers, information needs, technology/communication systems (including navigation aids, mobility of older people), older women, ethics, accidents and elder abuse. She is the author or co-author of 31 books and over 300 articles and book chapters. She has acted as Consultant to the WHO, OECD and the EU.

In 2009, the BSG Outstanding Achievement Aaward was presented to Tessa Harding MBE. The award ceremony took place during the annual  conference in September 2009 at the University of the West of England.

Professor Alan Walker said “Tessa Harding has made a major long term contribution to the empowerment of older people and ensuring that their individual and collective voices are heard by policy makers. She is a very worthy recipient of this award and truly reflects the outstanding contribution to gerontology that it is intended to honour.”

In 2008, the BSG Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Baroness Sally Greengross by Alan Walker, chair of the judging panel, at the annual conference held at the University of West of England.

Sally was Director General of Age Concern England from 1987 to 2000 and was directly responsible for establishing the Age Concern Institute of Gerontology at Kings College, London and Eurolink Age – which has become AGE – Older People’s Platform in Europe. Whilst at Age Concern England, she established many innovative programmes including Age Resource, the Employer's Forumon Age, Ageing Well, Intergenerational Projects, the Exchange on Ageing, Law and Ethics (EAGLE) and the Debate of the Age. She also built up Age Concern Enterprises into a multi-million pound business.

Baroness Greengross is well known to all who work in the field of social gerontology, not only in the UK but internationally and particularly across the EU.