Dr Joanna Skelt

Arrangements for the funeral of Dr Joanna Skelt

Friday 23rd February 3.30pm at The Unitarian Church in Birmingham
Joanna Skelt
Family and friends are gathering on the afternoon of Friday 23rd February to acknowledge Jo’s passing and to celebrate her life.

The celebration will be taking place at the Unitarian Church in Birmingham where all (including children) will be welcome. This takes place from 3.30pm and will be followed at 5pm with food and music. Please feel free to bring a bottle to enjoy with your food.

Below you will find directions, parking information and further details for the afternoon, and please do feel free to send any messages to Jo’s family via the comments area below.

Close family and friends will have attended a private burial service for Jo in the morning, but are looking forward to being at the church and meeting her other friends and colleagues, whom she valued so highly, to share more memories and stories of her.

Jo’s colleagues at Birmingham University have created a memoriam page about her which you may like to read by clicking this link

Joanna Skelt

The service will start at 3.30pm followed by food and music at 5pm

You are welcome to bring a bottle with you to enjoy with the food afterwards.

Address: The Unitarian Church, 31 Ryland Street, Five Ways, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B16 8BL

A map can be found by clicking this link.

Parking Please do not to park in the church parking lot before 6pm as you may receive a ticket.

The closest car park is:

Broadway, 25 Ruston Street, B16 8BB From Five Ways island roundabout, exit on Broad Street and turn left onto Ryland Street. Turn left again onto Grosvenor St W and before the road bends, the Unitarian New Meeting Church is on your right. However, please continue to follow the road around the bend to access Broadway Pay and Display multi-storey parking at Ruston Street, on your left. Or From Five Ways island roundabout, exit on Ladywood Middleway and turn right at the first traffic lights on to Friston Ave. Next turn right onto Ruston Street and on your right is the entrance to a multi-storey car park. After parking, follow the road around onto Grosvenor St W and the church is on your left.

Broadway Plaza, 220 Ladywood Middleway, B16 8LP From Five Ways Island Roundabout, exit onto Ladywood Middleway, staying in the left lane and as you pass the traffic light, enter the entrance for Broadway Plaza. Once parked, return to the Ladywood Middleway and cross over at the traffic lights. Stay to your left as if you are going down Ladywood Middleway and turn right onto Friston Ave. At the end of Friston Ave turn right onto Ruston Street. Follow the road around the bend onto Grosvenor St W, and the church is on your left.

135 Tennant Street Multi-storey, B15 1DA or Park at Euro Car park, 60 Bishopgate Street, B15 1DB Take Bishopgate Street to Broad Street. Cross over and walk up toward the Five Ways Roundabout. Turn right on to Ryland Street and left onto Grosvenor St W. See the church on your right.

Family flowers only please.

If you would like to send a gift the family have chosen to support The Unitarian Church’s Youth Program – which Joanna and Konya had been involved with.

You can make donations by adding to the collection box available on the day or you can send a cheque to the General Assembly of Unitarians.

If sending a cheque please write “Jo Skelt funeral donation” on the back, and make it payable to: “General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches”

Cheques should be posted to: General Assembly of Unitarians 1-6 Essex Street London WC2R 3HY

If you’d like further details of the program please visit The Unitarian Youth Programme

Please come in whatever makes you feel comfortable; in fact Jo’s wish was that everyone would wear colourful clothes for the afternoon.


  1. Oumar farouk SESAY

    I met Joana Skelt in Sierra Leone when she was researching for her thesis; her warmth and humanity could melt an iceberg. She was everyone’s friend and her quest for life and love for the art was palpable. I had iconic memories of her when I was in Birmingham as a Cadbury visiting fellow. Her death is a great loss for the art in particular and humanity in general. May her soul rest in peace.

  2. Penny Boreham

    I am so very very sorry to hear this. Jo and I had a very warm ‘virtual’ relationship and I respect her hugely. She heard a radio programme I made about a group of wonderful writers in Sierra Leone and contacted me and then I shared the raw interviews with her which I think were useful for her PhD. We then continued to write to each other for many years but we were about to meet for real – when I was due to come up and meet her students and have lunch with her and we were looking forward to it – then she let me know she was very ill but she still wanted to meet but it didn’t happen as of course the illness made it impossible. I am so so sorry you have lost a truly remarkable human being who had the most amazing energy and zest for life and such talent and warmth – I send huge love to all her family and to her beloved little girl. I treasure my relationship with her, and only wish we had met in person. Much love
    Penny (Boreham)

  3. Jennifer Alex-Vandi

    I met Joanna at the beach in Sierra Leone. She was a fast swimmer. We became friends and on her next visit, she actually stayed with me at my house in Sierra Leone. She left via Ghana where she met Joe. She called me and told me all about it. Then she was blessed with Konya. She named her Konya because of the meaning of “war” in one of the local languages in Sierra Leone. As she was frequent in Sierra Leone during the war. She coined the term “koi” (war) from the “Mende tribe” into Konya. I immigrated to the United States and Jo and I stayed in touch. She and Konya were yet to visit me in the states per plans. My whole family including my uncle “Musa” as Jo calls him will highly miss Jo.

  4. Hilary Blomsma

    I remember travelling to Croatia with Jo; her ease in making good conversations with a variety of people on the way, the fact that she brought her saxophone in a suitcase, our neighbours listening to her playing it on the balcony waiting for the laundry to dry in the noon sunshine as she looked over the rooftops out to sea, that she eased my sense of loneliness..not just because of wanting to come with me, but because she brought a joy and delight of life and the acceptance and enjoyment of people with her and an easygoingness that emanated an unbelievable confidence she had,
    that life was to be embraced and an incredible ability to understand what to do with it and which luggage mattered.
    When I think of her, writer’s block disappears…..I can say it how it is in one breath. So sad we had not been in touch recently but memories of her will always stay with me and bring inspiration.

  5. Hilary Blomsma

    Jo knew that as a christian I sensed God encouraging me to travel to Croatia and she was unhesitating in deciding to accompany me. My prayer is that may all of us who are now grieving, and especially Jo’s family, know comfort through the love of God who longs to accompany us all in life’s journey.

  6. Denniston

    A unique person filled with warmth energy and desire to help others express feelings through poetry she was a friend and also ready to have a cup of tea so glad that she was a friend she will to greatly missed denniston.

  7. Sayyara

    Jo, you will be greatly missed. May you rest in peace.

  8. Predencia

    Jo was a member of Writers Without Borders, and a very experienced poet by the time I joined them. When I planned to publish a small booklet of my poems she was more than happy to give me advise. The last time I saw her she was very excited and happy, having just been awarded her PhD and elected as Birmingham’s Poet Laureate. She was always so full of life. She will be missed. Predencia

  9. Shola Adenekan

    Jo was my colleague at University of Birmingham, where we both did our PhD in African Studies, under the same supervisor. Jo was intelligent, cheeky and possessed a great sense of humour. She’s a talented poet and a committed academic. Above all, she’s a loving mother to Konya. The last time we met was at Yale University, for the 2017 African Literature Association conference. We chatted about our children and work, and I remember she’s very full of all. The plan was to catch up with Jo the very week I was told she passed away. Sleep well, Jo. Sun re o. Ma jokunrun, ma ma j’Ekolo. Ohun tan ba nje l’Orun ni ko ba won je.


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