Lee McKee Art Award

An Introduction to Lee McKee from her children

Early in her career, Lee McKee developed an interest in working with children and young people with special educational needs. She studied for a degree in education, and a diploma in special needs education, all done at the kitchen table during evenings and weekends, whilst working full time.

Lee’s commitment to supporting children and young people began back in the 1970s, when support for young people’s individual needs was not as widespread or as well understood as it is today. Lee knew the importance of having a holistic understanding of a young person’s circumstances and integrating this into teaching and learning.

Lee began as a team member of a Pupil Referral Unit based in Lancaster. She drew on a remarkable gift: her innate ability to connect and communicate. She listened and responded to the whole person while still addressing complex individual needs. She promoted choice, change and a second chance. Lee was able to develop this further when she was asked to reorganise and manage the Pupil Referral Service for the whole of Lancashire.

Throughout her 30 year teaching career, Lee invested in relationships, and formed valuable bonds with students, families and colleagues. She also promoted the idea that progress, however small, should be clearly acknowledged.

Lee died at the relatively young age of 62, and did not have chance to enjoy her well-deserved retirement.  During the last few months of her life, a new pupil referral unit in Fleetwood was being planned. Her colleagues set in motion a campaign to name the unit “The McKee Centre”, and we were so delighted to open the unit, when our Dad was still with us, in 2003. It is wonderful to witness how the McKee College continues to thrive. Lee would be so very proud of her lasting influence.

So, turning to the Lee McKee Art Award…..

Lee found great pleasure in the outdoors and her Lakeland surroundings. She had a strong affinity with nature, and she painted what she saw. Her recognition of beauty, uniqueness and value in all things extended far beyond her artwork. She trusted, believed in and promoted the best of everyone. As in Nature itself, she believed that each one of us has the ability to evolve and therefore, fully deserves the second chance she worked so hard to provide. It is therefore fitting that Mum’s legacy is commemorated through art. We are proud to present the first Lee McKee Art Award.






Maddison McLaughlan