BPS updates

Christine Sprigg 1968-2019

An appreciation.

09 January 2020

Our friend, Dr Christine Sprigg, died abruptly by cancer in September 2019 at the age of just 51.

At the time, Christine had been working at the Institute of Work Psychology in the University of Sheffield for almost 20 years. She leaves behind two important and invaluable academic legacies, namely, her published research on psychological and physical well-being, and (especially) the inspiration, support, kindness and friendship that she gifted to hundreds of former students and colleagues. We were privileged to contribute in some small ways to the former and feel blessed to have benefited from the latter.

Although we worked with Christine in several guises (e.g., MSc student; PhD supervisor), there was never a point at which either of us felt like ‘a student’ or ‘a supervisor’ because of her warmth and collaborative instinct. For example, although Christine was for several years the Director and figurehead for the prestigious MSc in Occupational Psychology, she could often be found in the computer lab checking up on her fledglings, giving them a firm but reassuring shoulder squeeze, and speaking some motivating words. When the three of us worked together on a project on workplace bullying, we learned a lot about management from Christine.

As a manager, she was extremely supportive and encouraging, and her warmth, fun, and belief in others inspired us and shaped us in the ways we try to supervise others. That said, she was not above quietly culling questionnaire items that did not meet her vision.

At the same time, she sometimes struggled to realise her own worth, no matter how reassuring we thought we were being. She would conduct the same analyses repeatedly and call us in to help even though she didn’t need it because somehow she couldn’t believe that she had ‘tamed’ SPSS. Similarly, her PhD thesis included papers that had been published in the highly prestigious Journal of Applied Psychology and Journal of Occupational Health Psychology alongside other important work, yet still she fretted about the outcome of her viva, which to us was never in doubt.

Christine was a vivacious, frequently hilarious, memorable character who lit up a room and made an immediate impression. Her instant manner of connecting with others was if anything enhanced by the advent of social media, where she built a strong following for her @DrSpriggy twitter feed, updating followers with the latest research, international news, weather conditions, and goings on with the badgers in her garden. So devoted was her following, that when she was no longer able to join in the Thursday morning cuppa sessions that she herself had instigated in the Sheffield Management School to support colleagues, the hugely popular #cappuccinowithSpriggy was born, with even people she had never met joining in the virtual support network.

Christine leaves behind her partner Dan and mother Margaret, both of whom her world revolved around, as well as a great many friends, current and former colleagues, and collaborators who will all miss her deeply. Thank you Christine.

Dr Karen Niven & Professor Chris Armitage
University of Manchester