A PIONEERING clinical psychologist who "brought joy to everyone and everything" has died aged 70 with her family by her side.

Dr Joan Hawton, known in her professional life as Joan Kirk, set up the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC) in the 1990s.

She died on Saturday, January 16, after a diagnosis of multiple system atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder.

A statement posted on OCTC's website shortly after reads: "When we think of Joan Kirk we will recall many achievements and significant accomplishments, but those who were fortunate in knowing her will best remember her kindness, warmth and humour – and that she was simply remarkable."

Born on April 10, 1945 Joan Kirk grew up in Nottinghamshire and attended Nottingham High School for Girls before studying at Liverpool and Edinburgh universities.

After marrying Keith Hawton, now a professor of psychiatry at Oxford University and a world expert on suicide, Dr Hawton moved to the village South Leigh near Witney. From 1971 she spent most of her career at the Warneford Hospital in Headington and established, built up and led a thriving NHS clinical psychology department.

In the 1990s she would found at the hospital OCTC, today a thriving practice offering cognitive behaviour therapy services, mainly in teaching and training.

She co-edited and co-authored a number of bestselling textbooks on CBT and was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society for her contributions to the field.

After her retirement in 2004 Dr Hawton continued to support OCTC while at the same time working as a therapist in the local community.

Away from her working life, friends and colleagues have remembered Dr Hawton as an ardent walker who went trekking in the Himalayas, New Zealand and China, as well as spots closer to home in the UK with her binoculars in tow to identify birds. She also loved music, with the Rolling Stones and Roxy Music being special favourites.

Every year she would spend her holidays with family on the Scottish Isle of Colonsay, swimming in the sea and eating local oysters.

Former colleague Nicky Boughton said: "Joan brought joy to everyone and everything with which she was associated. Right up to her death this aspect of her shone through.

"Even when she could barely talk, she could smile and laugh in her inimitable way at her own and others' jokes. Like everything else she tackled, she coped with her illness with fortitude."

Dr Hawton is survived by her daughters Jane and Kate, who are in their 30s and work as a physiotherapist and junior doctor.

Her funeral was held at St James the Great Church in South Leigh on Friday, January 29. Contributions in her memory are welcome for the Multiple System Atrophy Trust via funeral directors E Taylor & Son in Corbett Road, Carterton.