Stewart Greenwell obituary

Other lives: Influential social worker who went on to help plan social care in England and Wales

My friend Stewart Greenwell, who has died aged 71, was an influential social worker who went on to help plan social care in England and Wales. His values and commitment to public service earned him a great deal of respect.

Born in Walsall, West Midlands, to Leonard Greenwell, a superintendent at the town’s market, and Iris (nee Jeffs), Stewart attended Blue Coat primary school in Walsall and later Queen Mary’s grammar school for boys. As a teenager he played the trumpet in his father’s dance band. He left school aged 18 to join Martins Bank, Wolverhampton. But he soon abandoned the world of finance in favour of caring for people.

He trained as a social worker at Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) between 1969 and 1971, and went to work for Walsall, Cornwall and Warwickshire local authorities, before studying for an MSc in public policy at the University of Bath.

He taught social work at Bristol Polytechnic (now the University of the West of England) and the University of Bath. In 1992 he was appointed head of the Central Training Council for Education and Training in Social Work for the South West.

Stewart held social work management posts in Warwickshire and Gloucestershire before becoming director of social care in Torfaen, Monmouthshire, and subsequently Newport, where he also held the briefs for housing and education.

In 2008 he was elected president of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru (ADSS Cymru). He was its lead director for mental health services from 2006 to 2013 and in 2007-08 co-chaired a review of mental health services in Wales.

A pattern of working collaboratively across professional boundaries and confronting organisations with the need to change was a key factor in Stewart’s management and teaching. He had a clear strategic vision and the ability to convey it to others.

On retiring from local authority employment in 2013, he continued providing policy and planning support for ADSS Cymru, leading on their behalf in a collaboration with the Welsh NHS to support the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. Last year he led a team to develop options for a peer inspector scheme for Care Inspectorate Wales.

Stewart was also active in charitable organisations in his local community and with refugees caught up in Calais.

An enthusiastic trumpeter and trombonist with his band, the Soul Destroyers, Stewart’s delight in this pursuit was only exceeded by his love for Walsall FC. Saturdays would see him drive the 100-plus miles from south Wales to Bescot stadium to sit on the edge of his seat, cheering his beloved Saddlers.

Stewart is survived by his wife, Gill (nee Jovcic), by a son, Ben, from his first marriage, to Elaine, which ended in divorce, by his sons Sam and Kieran with his former partner, Sue Playford, and by his stepdaughters, Amy and Emily, and his sister, Dianne.

Martin Shreeve

The GuardianTramp

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