BSG Averil Osborn
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Averil Osborn
was known to students, to scholars, to professionals, to practitioners and to representational and advocacy groups aross the spectrum of social gerontology as a life-long advocate for older people. Averil contributed to the enhancement of older people's lives through her research and scholarly writings, through popular publications, and through active engagement with older people themselves. Her sudden death in 1994 saddened colleagues and friends in the British Society of Gerontology. To commemorate Averil's life and work the Society has established the BSG Averil Osborn Award for Participatory Research to support innovative research and dissemination projects which directly involve older people and to spread understanding and good practice.

Averil Osborn

Averil was born in 1944 and trained as a scientist before turning to public policy issues. She had a sharp, analytical mind with a scientist's healthy scepticism for received wisdom, and was always ready to question existing ideas and ways of doing things to promote improvements in society. The work that was to develop Averil's reputation as a social gerontologist began in 1975 when Averil became a research officer in the Lothian Region Social Work Department. She is described by colleagues as 'a superb professional who always set herself exactingly high standards'. She is also remembered for her warmth and gentle humour. In 1982, Averil moved to Age Concern Scotland as Assistant Director for Training and Development. Here she was able to address and bridge what she regarded as disturbing gaps between research and policy and practice. In the 1990s she joined the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which provided a further avenue for her commitment to change. Averil collaborated with many people in the public services, academic world and voluntary sector, many of whom researched especially challenging issues in social policy. She remained throughout deeply committed to action research. For her, the energy and money invested in social research were only well spent if its results were widely disseminated, informed public debate and catalysed policy change. She embraced the highest standards of professional integrity and performance and expected them from those she worked with. She is remembered with deep affection and admiration. Averil Osborn died in July 1994.

The Aims of the Research Award

The mission of the Averil Osborn Award for Participatory Research is to encourage and support research that enhances the quality of life and citizenship of older people. The Fund was established in 1994 and is administered by a Panel nominated by the British Society of Gerontology (Registered Charity 264385) through which its accounts are audited. The Fund wishes particularly to promote the involvement of older people in projects alongside researchers, professionals and practitioners. The Fund is used exclusively for the direct support of the projects, and no other administrative or meeting expenses are drawn.

Further information about previously funded projects will be posted here soon.