Launch of the Winefride and Booth Smith PhD Studentships

Winefride and Booth Smith, wedding day, summer 1945
Winefride and Booth Smith, wedding day, summer 1945

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Patrick Wild Centre’s new 10 year PhD scheme: The Winefride and Booth Smith Studentships.

The studentships are made possible by a very generous legacy bequest from Mrs Winefride Smith, the sister of Dr Alfred Wild and Patrick Wild after whom the university named the Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities.

Winefride (Winnie) Violet Wild was born in Edinburgh in 1911. She was the fourth of eight siblings, 2 brothers and 5 sisters. Born in 1910, her brother Patrick was her mother’s third live birth.  Disabled from an early age, Patrick required significant amounts of care and support from his family throughout his life. As an older child and young woman, Winnie dedicated a great deal of her time to teaching Patrick and was the family member most responsible for his eventual ability to communicate his needs in words.

A talented athlete in her youth, Winnie won numerous awards for swimming and tennis. She met Booth Smith, a newspaper photoengraver and youngest of 8 siblings, in 1939, in Keighley, where she was an elementary school teacher. According to both, it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, shortly after they met, Booth was called up to fight in WW2, in the Italian and African campaigns.  Winnie and Booth were married on Booth’s return from the war, in 1945. Sadly, their only son, John Booth Smith, died of neuroblastoma at the age of 10 years. They are buried in a family plot in Kirkcudbright.

It is a pleasure to commemorate Winnie and Booth through the establishment of these Studentships, which will be partnered with a celebratory annual event to publicise the research.

Our thanks goes to the Wild family and particularly to Winnie’s niece, Dr Mhairi MacDonald, for their unerring support since the establishment of the Patrick Wild Centre in 2010.