Remembering Rosemary Sales

Thanks to a scholarship, Rosemary had the opportunity to attend university in London. She had a strong desire to pay her good fortune forward, and now, her memory is being honoured with two generous gifts in her Will to the University of Sheffield.

Rosemary kindly smiling at the camera

Rosemary Sales, was born in Rawmarsh, Rotherham to a mining family. Her characteristic determination was shown at an early age when she moved to London to study geology at Bedford College for Women in 1941. Although her studies were interrupted by World War II when the College was briefly evacuated to Cambridge, she managed to eventually return to the capital and graduate in 1945 with a BSc(Hons). After this she completed a one-year Special BSc(Hons) course in Chemistry, following that with laboratory work.

She then returned to South Yorkshire to live with her parents while saving up for a mortgage, quite a feat for a single woman in the 1950s. The bungalow she eventually bought in Lodge Moor would be her home for the rest of her life. It was here that her connection with the University began.

Rosemary began work as a Research Assistant in the Department of Glass Technology at the University of Sheffield. In those days the Department was run by its founder Professor W. E. S. Turner, namesake of the Turner Museum of Glass. Rosemary later remembered him as “an absolute gentleman”. She went on to become a founding member of the British Glass Industry Research Association. Her long association with the Society of Glass Technology (SGT), an institution she first joined in 1950, led to her holding many positions: Vice President; Secretary of the Analysis and Properties Committee; Secretary and later Chair of the Yorkshire Section, culminating in the award of an Honorary Fellowship. The annual Yorkshire Section Dinner and Dances she organised were legendary!

Throughout her life, Rosemary remained lively, intellectually curious and devoted to helping others. As well as her full-time job and time spent working on SGT matters, Rosemary also undertook lots of volunteer work through her local church, St Luke’s.

A friend who knew her through her voluntary work at the Church Lunch Club remembers that she was always ahead of her time when it came to computers, able to create digital content for posters and letters. Up until the year before she died, she participated in the Lunch Club, assisting with cooking and serving meals for “the old people”.

Sadly, Rosemary passed away in April 2020 from Covid-19. She had very kindly pledged a gift to the University of Sheffield in her Will, wanting to give back to the place where she had so many happy memories from her early career.

The power of her gift

The University of Sheffield is very grateful for the donations received in the Will of the late Rosemary Sales, worth £5,000 towards medical research in Neuroscience and £1,000 to the Turner Museum of Glass.

Professor John Parker, Emeritus Professor of Glass Science and Engineering and curator of the Turner Museum, was in charge of allocating the funds donated by Rosemary to purchase ‘Glow’ by Tracy Nicholls.

Glass piece with an orange glow
Glow, a glass artwork crafted by Tracy Nichols, was acquired for the Turner Glass Museum in Sheffield through the generous support of former staff member Rosemary Sales.

Professor Parker knew Rosemary well and was keen to purchase a piece that would speak to her memory. He especially wanted to find something innovative made by a young female artist, to honour Rosemary’s pioneering work as a woman in the glass industry. In his own words, the purchase of ‘Glow’ was “a deliberate choice because Rosemary would have approved.”

The piece is now on display at the Turner Museum of Glass, along with a label giving visitors information about Rosemary’s legacy.

Rosemary also very generously donated £5,000 to support research into Neuroscience, another discipline close to her heart. The donation is supporting cutting-edge research at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). The work currently being done at SITraN furthers understanding of why Parkinson’s progresses differently between patients. It will also improve the effectiveness of clinical trials and speed up the development of personalised treatments.

The University of Sheffield would like to thank the friends of Rosemary Sales on behalf of all those who will benefit from this kind gift.

Leaving a gift in your Will or making a donation now

If you would like further information about supporting the University now or in the future, please contact David Meadows. David is our Philanthropy Manager for Legacies and a Sheffield graduate himself. He would love to have a confidential chat with you about supporting the University.

Telephone: 0114 222 1073

With thanks to the Society of Glass Technology for assistance writing this article.