Katherine Cuthbert

Kath was once a roller-skating tomboy. She became a swimmer, hill-walker, cyclist and skier. Rather later the active, outdoor life became more difficult. Kath is now someone who, among other aspects of her life, has multiple sclerosis.

Kath was brought up in the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, in an environment in which debate and discussion of current affairs was part of daily life. A different kind of jockeying for position arose from having younger twin sisters but, for the most part, she had a very happy and uneventful childhood.

Like many of her contemporaries from Ardwyn Grammar School, Kath left Wales for higher education and employment. She graduated from Keele University in biology and psychology in 1969. By the end of her joint honours degree psychology had become her primary interest area. The other new part of her life at Keele was meeting her now long-time partner and husband, Pete.

Kath’s psychological interests have been sustained and developed through her career as a lecturer in higher education. During this time she was also strongly involved in innovative approaches to student learning. Her initial experience of writing and publication drew on her research in this context. Despite being diagnosed with MS in 1993, Kath continued with academic life, for a while at least, and completed her PhD in 2002. (Thesis: An evaluation of teaching and learning within an Independent Study degree and examination of wider relevance.)

Kath has successfully survived becoming chronically sick and moderately disabled, and has been able to maintain a positive quality of life. Whilst needing to abandon skiing, and being disappointed about not being able to try roller blading, she has discovered yoga, hand-cycling and tri-cycling. Her writing focus has also changed. She has written a reflective account of her experience of chronic illness and disability in the hope that it will be of help to others, whether faced with MS or any other chronic disease. Her interests in psychology have progressed and are now principally in the newly developing area of positive psychology.