Bicknell, Dorothy Joan

Born in Twickenham, Middlesex, on 10th April 1939, Joan Bicknell was a pioneer in the psychiatry of learning disability, and was influential in the move from large institutions to care in the community. Her approach to the care and treatment of her patients was always inclusive: not only professional colleagues, but patients and their families too were involved in decision-making.

Joan was educated at Twickenham County School for Girls and the University of Birmingham, and, after psychiatric work both in hospitals and in the community, in 1980 became the first Professor of Psychiatry at St George's Hospital, Tooting. Her own excellent clinical skills were matched by her ability to inspire and encourage those who worked under her, though her path as the first woman in this position was not always easy, and she suffered periods of ill-health.

Joan retired in 1990, and soon moved to Holnest in Dorset with her partner Diane, a social worker. There for seventeen years they ran a care farm, receiving visits from handicapped children and their parents and carers. They then moved to nearby Stalbridge, where Joan died from cancer on 12th June 2017.

Joan was a life-long Methodist, and her faith and sense of vocation was central to all she did.


Entry written by: CLM and JAV
Category: Person
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