Wendy Rickard appointed as an Associate Researcher in Oral History @ Newcastle

Dr Wendy Rickard joined the Oral History Collective @ Newcastle as an Associate Researcher in early 2023.

Wendy is a practicing Oral Historian with 25 years of experience working in HIV oral history. Most recently, she set up and ran a participative oral history project focused on young people in the UK who have grown up with HIV (Positively Spoken). She did this in collaboration with the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), psychologists from St Mary’s Hospital, and National Life Stories at the British Library (BL), funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This project team also went to the 2022 International AIDS conference in Montreal, and in 2023, the group produced a podcast based on the international recordings. Wendy’s work and background mean that she brings a unique perspective to the collective, focusing on the oral history of health and childhood, using shared authority approaches.

Wendy followed an indirect path into the oral history field. While interviewing people living with HIV and AIDS, as part of a policy project for the Department of Health, she realised the importance of this work to social history. This led her to begin collecting these oral histories on an ad-hoc freelance basis, which then transformed into the HIV/ AIDS Testimonies Project and a follow up project ten years later. Oral history has been an important part of her life and career.

Wendy spent 16 years teaching and training in public health and research methods, with oral history as a specialism. She taught oral history on Undergraduate, Masters, and PhD programmes, and set up two further oral history collections: on the ‘Oral History of Prostitution’ and ‘Life Testimony and Health Promotion’. She has also been an active member of the UK Oral History Society and was one of the co-editors of the journal: ‘Oral History’. Wendy has worked on encouraging and supporting community members to carry out research projects based on their own ideas, winning an award for ‘Outstanding Public Engagement’. In 2022, a BBC2 series AIDS: The Unheard Tapes used material from her project HIV Testimonies, using original recordings, lip-synched by actors. The series has been nominated for a Royal TV Society Award for History and a BAFTA TV Award for Specialist Factual.

In her spare time, Wendy has been farming for 15 years in Exmoor, enjoying non-human, animal company and working as a gymnastics coach.

While at Newcastle, Wendy will focus on writing essays, a book proposal, and a fellowship application, as well as continuing to undertake freelance public health research and teaching contracts for UK universities. She also has further international work planned with Positively Spoken. In 2023, she recorded a life history with Margot Farnham (Hall Carpenter Archive) for the British Library’s ‘Oral History of Oral Histories’ Collection. Wendy will present at the forthcoming British HIV Association Conference (April 2023), BL Interviewer’s Forum (16 May, 2023), the Oral History Society Conference (June 2023) and a National Life Story’s Symposium (30 June, 2023).

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