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Sue Fortescue obituary

My friend Sue Fortescue, who has died of pancreatic cancer aged 75, was a trailblazer across the diverse worlds of language learning, education, computing and international banking. She was also an active volunteer for a number of causes.

Sue was born in Teddington, south-west London. Her father, Dennis Fortescue, was an RAF officer, and Sue and her mother, Ann (nee Angell), led a peripatetic life throughout her schooldays, finally ending up in Leeds. At Reading University she studied French and Italian, spending time in Aix-en-Provence and Naples. She returned to Naples after her 1969 graduation, working as an English teacher for the British Council. The Ministry of Overseas Development then recruited her in 1976 to create a master’s course in education at a Nepalese university.

A master’s degree in linguistics at the University of Leeds in 1975-76 sparked her interest in the use of IT in language learning, and later in translation. These were early days for such uses of computers, and in 1987 she co-authored the book Using Computers in the Language Classroom. By then she was taking a second master’s degree at Heriot-Watt University, on knowledge-based systems. Her skills in languages, education and IT came together in a post at Barclays Corporate Banking, designing multimedia training programmes, ahead of their time.

The remaining 23 years of Sue’s career were spent at Swift, the international banking telecommunications organisation, principally at their headquarters in Belgium but also with a two-year posting to the US. She rose to the role of IT manager, and her team was responsible for ensuring the resilience of international banking systems to prevent their possible collapse on 1 January 2000. The multilingual and multicultural environment at Swift greatly suited her outgoing personality.

On retirement in 2011, Sue moved to Poole in Dorset, and enthusiastically embraced volunteering roles, where she used her IT skills helping various charities and local community bodies, including 10 years with Samaritans Bournemouth. Retaining her interest in languages, she became an ambassador for Translators Without Borders, providing translation services for humanitarian purposes, and she took a third master’s degree, in machine translation. Sue gave her heart and soul to everything she did.

Sue will be remembered for her kindness, enthusiasm humour and wisdom. She inspired many with her positive and adventurous approach to life, and encouraged all to follow their dreams.

She is survived by her cousins Lisa, Lynn, Susan and John.