A tribute to Patricia Shenton OBE


It was with great sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of Pat Shenton OBE on the 17th July 2021.

As a long-standing trustee for Merseyside Sports Foundation and former MSP Board Vice-Chair, Pat will be remembered with a great deal of admiration by the trustees and team at Merseyside Sports Foundation; the team and board members of MSP with which the Foundation partners closely; and, indeed, everyone in our network who knew her. Our thoughts are with her partner Win and all who knew Pat at this incredibly difficult time.

Pat’s professional background spanned both education and sport. She was awarded a professorship in 2001 recognising an outstanding contribution to Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), local and national community, strategic leadership, entrepreneurship, staff development, research and scholarly activity. She also attended and chaired a number of key regional and national committees and steering groups on behalf of national agencies, to provide expertise on innovation and change processes in physical education and sport.

Pat would go on to be awarded an OBE for her services to education and training in 2010.

Pat’s other experience included:

  • Playing an international role working on comparative education and training in sport and physical education, through study tours and conference presentations in the Soviet Union, Finland, Zambia and Latvia.
  • Setting up and coordinating a national network for Physical Education Initial Teacher Training.
  • Co-directing a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at LJMU (award funded) to promote leadership and entrepreneurship for students preparing for the world of work.
  • Holding the roles of Director of Academies, Trusts, and Specialist Schools on behalf of LJMU; Ofsted Inspector for Higher Education and Schools (Physical Education/Sport/Dance); and Trustee/Director of Everton Foundation Trust.

In retirement, as well as being a trustee for Merseyside Sports Foundation and Ringway Golf Club, she led a project team on the development of an academy for young people and their parents. 

As might be expected of a trustee for a charity focussed on sport and physical activity, Pat led an active lifestyle. Over the years she enjoyed playing county-level hockey and squash; mountaineering (logging up the Munros); skiing and golf. Her love for golf was legendary with former MSP Director, Jean Stephens recalling Pat saying, with the biggest smile on her face even when she couldn’t move her neck, ‘I am playing golf, what more do I need?’.

We asked some of those who knew Pat in her capacity as a trustee and friend of Merseyside Sports Foundation to share their memories of her:

John Bell, Chair of Merseyside Sports Foundation Board of Trustees said,

“Pat Shenton was my ideal of a Board member. Always supportive of her colleagues and me as Chair . Pat was a person of great learning and I respected her incisive words. But she wore that learning lightly, never referring to her title of Professor and was always down to earth. I shall miss her”

Jean Stephens, former MSP director and fellow Merseyside Sports Foundation trustee recounted, 

“Pat was an inspirational role model to many of us who she took under her wing.  I personally will not forget her amazing support both professionally and personally – her legacy will live on.

She was always progressive and continually strove for improvement, which resulted in, amongst other things the original concept for school sports partnerships and the delivery of remote lessons delivered through technology way back in the 1990s, a long time before the pandemic era!  She was equally passionate about the community, supporting local clubs, which she pioneered ‘adopt a club’ again an early creation of the current vision today.

Nothing was too much trouble for Pat and her gift of positivity shone throughout all of her work. She gave so much back and always used to say…. “When I stop making a difference will you tell me”? I never ever needed to say that to her as she always made a difference to both MSP and Merseyside Sports Foundation.”

Kerry Stewart, former interim director of MSP added, 

“I would totally echo Jean’s comments and she most definitely said ‘when I stop making a difference, will you tell me?’. As Jean says, we didn’t need to! We didn’t want to! 

I would also add that Pat was a supporter in every way of ‘Merseyside Sport’, as we were known then, some 20 years ago, when we were housed within LJMU. She was very proud to say that she hosted a county sports partnership and whilst on paper we were linked to Liverpool City Council, it was Pat who led us, guided us and promoted us. 

I know that when she talked, you could hear a pin drop – she would hold everyone’s attention. Such a strong lady and a strong leader who would never give up on anything that she believed in. She always had a smile; she was always laughing.  

Her wealth of experience and knowledge is what I remember her for.  She has such a calm way about her but stood firm in her views. Her experience and knowledge were put to good use in her being a trustee for MSF. I am not sure if we ever tapped into the full potential due to defining our own role here, but her calmness always kept us on track, and she always wanted to help us. She would always ask after all team members too.  

I am so proud to have worked with her, to have known her. A values-led leader, with a huge heart.”

Tom Douglas, MSP’s current director continued, 

“Pat was an inspiring woman. I remember when she introduced herself at a trustee meeting, sharing many of the personal and professional things she loved in her life; from her days at LJMU at the IM Marsh Campus (she was even recently writing a book on its history), to her longstanding involvement and support of MSP and Merseyside Sports Foundation, to her love of golf and classic cars. She always wanted to do and help more. She will be sorely missed but leaves an amazing legacy behind that we will all remember for years to come.”

Fellow trustees working alongside Pat at Merseyside Sports Foundation said respectively,

“I had the pleasure of working with Pat for five years as a trustee. She was a wonderful listener and when she spoke it was always to provide an insightful and valuable input to the debate, which was often followed by a more than witty aside. She cared passionately about sport and even more passionately about the young people in our society, and providing them with a chance to shine and develop through their chosen activity. She will be greatly missed.” – Alan Cooper 

“Working with Pat was an amazing privilege. She combined immense skill and experience with an overwhelming humility. In addition to learning loads from her I was fortunate enough to enjoy her friendship together with lots of laughs. Pat was an incredible person and will be sadly missed’.”   Adam Walker 



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