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Obituary: Deborah Goodwin, OBE

Deborah Louise Goodwin (Maiden name, Pearson), OBE was born in Beverley, Yorkshire on 15 September 1956, one of three sisters, and passed away on 20 May 2020 following a brave battle with cancer over the last six months.


After schooling at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington, Deborah joined Pannell Kerr Foster (PKF), Chartered Accountants, in Darlington and after qualifying with distinction (top 3 nationally) for ICAEW became PKF’s youngest ever partner at the age of 22. Those achievements were the motivation for wanting more and she moved to London in the early 1980s where she joined Touche Ross & Co (later to become Deloitte) as a manager and was admitted to the partnership there in April 1988 as their first ever female Audit partner. After distinguishing herself as an Audit Partner and Staff Partner, she worked closely with the CEO on a range of Human Resources matters, leading to her helping create and run a new advisory service line, Human Capital, which continues today.  

Upon leaving Deloitte in February 2003, Deborah’s career developed both her accountancy and her HR interests, especially in the Further and Higher Education Sectors, including most notably helping Birkbeck College and South Bank University and being a trustee of the Institute of Education and heading the Audit Committee of the Teachers Training & Development Agency for Schools.  Her extensive charitable work also included The Prince’s Trust and the Women’s Refuge Movement, where she was a trustee of both Wandsworth Women’s Aid and Hestia, one of the largest carers of vulnerable people in the UK.

All of this led to her richly deserved award of an OBE in the 2008 New Year’s Honours for services to the Community and Education.

In 2005 she created a small firm of Chartered Accountants, Pearson & Co offering a wide range of support service for owner managed businesses and, perhaps not surprisingly, given her other role as a Life Coach, also an HR offering covering Employment and Health & Safety compliance matters. Most recently, her charitable work included becoming a Governor at Goodenough College and a member of its Finance and Audit Committees.

Common to all the comments received since her death have been those about her generosity, her work ethic, her modesty and her sense of fun. “She always left me with a smile on my face and feeling more optimistic”. Typical of her modesty is how few of her friends have heard her mention her OBE or the wonderful work she earned it for.  Her generosity was evident in the time she would freely give to clients, charities and friends alike.  Her advocacy skills were often to the fore in the way she would willingly help clients and charities “fight the good fight” once she was convinced of the rightness of a cause.

Her sense of fun was captured by one friend referring to Deborah as a lunch companion who could be relied upon to ban all tendencies towards self-denial!  Although generally a quietly spoken person, she could be, and often was, sufficiently assertive if the need arose. One such time was when a senior partner took a group of female partners to lunch and it was Deborah who insisted, amidst much mirth, that the wine waiter gave the wine list to one of them and not to the only male at the table.  The same senior partner has commented on how much he enjoyed working with her “even when she found it necessary to be tough with me and redirect my actions!”.

She is survived by her mother, both sisters and her two sons, Adam (29) and Edward (21), whom she was impressed by and grateful for the way they looked after her through her illness, particularly in her final weeks.