Dr Daryl James Dugdale, 1966-2021

Dr Daryl Dugdale, Lecturer in Social Work and Programme Director for the Social Work MSc, died on 26 May at the age of 55.

His colleagues, Dr Agnes Bezzina, Dr David Abbott and Dr Jon Symonds offer a remembrance. 

Daryl’s history within the School for Policy Studies (SPS) dates to the mid-90s when he undertook his social work professional qualification. After qualifying, he worked in child protection, initially as a practitioner, and subsequently as a training officer with Bristol City Council as well as Swindon Borough Council. Daryl joined the University of Bristol as a Teaching Fellow in 2007. He completed his professional Doctorate in 2012 and was appointed Programme Director (PD) of the MSc Social Work programme in 2014.

Daryl’s main professional and academic interests comprised social work and gender, masculinity, assessment in children and family social work, and inter-professional training. He researched fatherhood in society, with a particular focus on fathers with a learning disability and the implications for services. He had a critical pedagogical approach to leadership, teaching and student support, aspiring to an education that fosters self-awareness, helps students to question and challenge dominant oppressive discourses, and supports students’ identity-formation as critically conscious social work professionals. He was extremely popular with students!

But Daryl was not your conventional scholar. He found joy in sharing his many non-academic passions with those around him. He followed Bristol City FC and Newcastle United FC and was a regular supporter at Ashton Gate Stadium. He had unparalleled enthusiasm for music, most notably The Smiths, and his DJ-ing skills brought hours of entertainment to many a party, including at his retirement fundraiser in 2017 through which he and his family raised funds for Penny Brohn Cancer Charity.

Anyone who crossed paths with Daryl would say that he was larger than life. His physical presence will be sorely missed by colleagues and friends at SPS, but his genuine passion for human rights and social justice, and the positive energy he brought to social work teaching, leadership and research, will live on through the many social work practitioners, educators and students who Daryl touched by his life.

David Abbott, Head of School during Daryl’s appointment as Programme Director remembers him;

“I sat on Daryl’s initial interview panel. He sparkled and was our top choice. After his diagnosis, he came to see me in my then role of Head of School. We both cried and swore a lot. Even then he was as concerned about others as himself – family of course, but also students and colleagues here in the School. He was a bottle of pop or fizzy wine to be around. He didn’t, I think, ever mind me complementing him on his amazing hair. You’d want to clone some colleagues, if you could, such is their skill and effervescence. Daryl was one such for sure.”

Jon Symonds, colleague and friend recalls their first meeting;

“I met Daryl shortly after I started at the School for Policy Studies in 2010 and the first thing I remember was his bright yellow jumper, then his glasses, then his hair. We immediately bonded over shared research interests in music and our doctoral studies in social work with fathers. Before long he had taken me under his wing, buying me beers at Christmas, regaling me with tales of academic life, and keeping me up way too late at conferences. He was endlessly encouraging of others and brought his characteristic positivity to both his teaching, and his research with fathers with learning disabilities. For me, he will always be the irrepressible Daryl Dugdale.”

Daryl is survived by his wife Tracey, his son Zak and his daughter Ede.


A collection has been set up by the School for Policy Studies in celebration of the life of Daryl Dugdale. Daryl was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. Although he retired in 2017, he remained in close contact with friends and colleagues within the school. He inspired many a person through his blog – The Hard C – through which he documented his journey living with cancer.

It is his family’s wish that, in celebration of his life, donations are collected for Penny Brohn Cancer Charity, which provided instrumental support to Daryl and his family throughout these last 5 years. To donate please click here.

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4 thoughts on “Dr Daryl James Dugdale, 1966-2021

  1. I only knew Daryl for a relatively short time but he was one of the warmest, vibrant and most positive people I have ever known. He was a truly lovely man.

  2. Daryl always lit up a room. He always made everyone feel welcome and wanted. He took me under his wing at a conference when I was still very new to academia and doing my PhD. (Inevitably, this involved staying up too late with too many drinks…!!) but he also made sure to introduce me to others and involve me in academic conversations I was too shy to join by myself. Academically, he was so skilled and so passionate about his work – one of the best presentations I have seen at a conference was by him, talking about some of his research with fathers. He will be so so missed.

  3. Daryl made me feel so welcome when I joined the School in 2015 as the administrator for the programme he was director for. A real ray of sunshine, I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who gave off such a positive energy! I’ve got so many warm memories of Daryl and will remember him ever so fondly.

  4. Daryl was an inspiring Social Worker and all round lovely man. Thank you Daryl, for lighting the fire of Social Work in so many of us MSc SW students. It was such a privilege to be taught by you.

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