My memories of Vicky

Photo of VickyVicky Neale, our much loved colleague and inspiration to so many, died on Wednesday 3 May. If you would like to share your memories of Vicky, please use the link below.

You can also visit our social media channels where many people have shared their thoughts and demonstrated just what an impact Vicky had on people's lives, mathematical and beyond.

Thank you for all the messages below.

Share your memories

Yaël Dillies
I met you two years ago during the Mirzakhani-Emmy Noether exchange day between Cambridge and Oxford. I know you were involved in both societies, most recently in Oxford, and a decade ago during the creation of the ENS.

You were very kind and made us mathematically design some bracelets. I was looking forward to seeing you again in just a few weeks for the 2024 exchange.
Max Chatterji
Vicky, I got my chance to know you many years ago when the Royal Society ran a course to engage school children with the more recreational parts of maths. As a maths ambassador I was asked to help out. Your passion for problem solving really shone through, and the whole event was, in my opinion, a massive success. I'm certain that many of those kids had their interest in maths piqued by that event. One of the activities was about linking vertices of an M sided 2 dimensional platonic polygon by the sequence of links between vertex v(n) and v(n-1) given by v(n) = f(v(n-1)) Mod M for a given f(v). You simulated what this would look like for a partial series and the sorts of patterns you could get. Then you showed how you had used this relation to make your very own custom Christmas cards, where you had sewn together the vertices of a many sided polygon in such away that it looked like a heart. The way you explained it made it sound so simple and the fact that you had applied this mathematics in real life to make something so beautiful demonstrated your undeniable authenticity. I don't know how many of those cards you've made or who you gave them to, but I hope with every sinew of my being whoever received one has preserved and cherished it just as we preserve and cherish your memory.
Anne Andrews
When I first met Vicky I was a complete novice on a UKMTSummer School & she was an enormous help to me. And her help continued until her untimely death. When I was invited to run one of the 2013 Oxford Summer Schools, I was much more experienced but I wanted to learn about different ways of constructing a Summer School programme. One of the first things I did was hare off to Murray Edwards to hear what Vicky had to say. After retiring from regular school teaching, I had become a UKMT mentor &, when I took on more responsibilities in that area, Vicky taught me most of what I know about problem-setting. She was a tremendous support & a very robust critic of any hint of sloppiness. I look back on that as an extremely Vickyesque mixture! When she moved to Oxford, we had further sporadic contacts & I could go to a few of her celebrated general lectures. On a personal basis, she was a mine of information when my American grandson conceived the idea of a maths application to Oxford. An extended afternoon session turned into a discussion of diversifying the intake of students to top maths departments. Vicky’s last kindness to me was to give me a lift to Cambridge, thus sparing me the alternatives of an interminable X5 ride or a detour via Kings Cross. We talked about teaching maths most of the way. I am very sad to think that I will never again have such a discussion with Vicky, nor will she ever again berate me for forgetting a “then” after an “if” clause.

Daniel Clark (Funck)
Vicky was also a big part of the support that I got in my mathematical formative years, and it pains me that I can't tell her properly, so I'd like to share some of the impact she's had on me.

Before I had even applied for University, when I had just finished my GCSE's, I was invited to a UKMT summer school hosted at Balliol college (foreboding!). Here I, along with 39 other teenagers, was introduced into "real" Maths for the first time, and Vicky was there teaching us all elementary Number theory. Apart from just getting very excited about patterns in multiplication tables modulo various small numbers, she also taught us about the necessity of rigorous proof. Now, I wasn't very receptive to that at this point, and I have one anecdote where I answered a question, to which Vicky responded 'why? how do you prove that?', and I gave quite a rude reply, saying it was obvious (it wasn't) and that anyone with half a brain could see it to be true! (I was definitely in the wrong then). Nevertheless, Vicky kept her cool, I was pretty ashamed, and then she continued to show us how proof was done, and helped us through some pretty ones too.

Despite that incident, the whole experience was quite life changing for me. Before, I had no clear idea about what I'd like to do at Uni, something mathsy-physicsy undoubtedly, but leaning probably towards physics. After, thanks to UKMT, and Vicky's relentless dedication to sharing the beauty of rigor in proof, my heart was set on going to university and learning maths. (And, in that time, I also came to appreciate what Vicky was prompting when I was so rude to her, to the extent I told off one of my physics teachers for showing us a wrong proof in a lesson).

Fast forward to university, I along with anyone who studied at Balliol can tell stories of the horrors of Vicky's red pen, (illegal maths!, or in my case, most commonly a continual misspelling of the word 'symmetric'), and while it was kind of brutal at times (though always in a funny, parental kind of way), it was only through being called out of the blunders like this that we were able to get to a point where we can actually write maths, and not leave holes in our argument. She also had a very good understanding of those points that would usually confuse us, and had a brilliant knack for explaining things so that they made sense, some of which I still quote today:
'Don't tell us facts about your friends, until you've introduced your friend to us! Tell us their name, and where they live!' (I admit this one is a little stalker-y, out of context, but it is a helpful reminder to always say, 'Let g be an element of G, a group.'

I have both marked and tutored maths by now, and throughout I still use Vicky's style of teaching as a role model. Asking myself questions such as 'How would Vicky try to explain this?' etc. When I'm marking, I often joke to myself that I'm 'channeling my inner Vicky' when I use my red pen.

During my last year of undergrad in Balliol, I went to Vicky to ask her to help me with my PhD applications on several occasions, and she supported me throughout the process.

I think it is true to say that she was and is a big inspiration to me, and is definitely to thank (or to blame) in part for me chasing an academic career in Number theory (albeit algebraic rather than analytic), and to see the importance and power of mathematical teaching and outreach.
Charlie Gilderdale
I imagine we’ve all read and heard the wonderful comments that have been written by Vicky's friends, students, and colleagues, about her lectures being incredibly clear and interesting, and filled with passion – “she lit up the room when talking about maths” - about her wisdom and energy, her kindness and warmth, and how her enthusiasm and example inspired so many young students – she helped to make their dreams come true.

She was appreciated and loved by so many people, but in an age when our culture often encourages us to put our own needs and wishes first, what stood out for me was the way in which Vicky put other people’s needs first, and made so few demands on her friends, colleagues, and family. She often worked seven days a week, volunteered for many causes, even when she was very busy, was always approachable and available for her students and friends, and just about managed to squeeze a week’s holiday in her beloved Isle of Skye at the end of her summer break. Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she continued to lecture and contribute to the work at the Mathematical Institute in Oxford and Balliol College, leaving detailed hand-over notes for colleagues who had no idea how ill she was, decided to host the Maths + Cancer podcasts which were so well received, and was insistent that her closest friends and colleagues didn’t share her diagnosis with anyone. Till the very end, she made very few demands, treading softly, as Yeats requested:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Vicky walked lightly on this earth, treading softly, but leaving a great impression.

Thank you, Vicky, for being such a good friend.
Christina O'Donnell
I am so saddened to hear of Vicky's passing. She was a fantastic tutor, very open and welcoming. Classes with her at Balliol, which involved tea and biscuits, felt relaxed and would be something I looked forward to each week rather than dreaded. Her stance toward inclusion is something I'm really only learning about now, but it's something I'm grateful for none the less. It is a great shame her life and career were ended so early, but her values and love of maths live on in me and many others she's crossed paths with. My greatest sympathies and condolences to her family.
Anne Pearsall
I feel so privileged to have worked with Vicky on PROMYS Europe since it's inception; to watch it grow and be a part of it's development; and to witness the life-changing impact Vicky's contributions have had on so many of the programme's students each year. Vicky embodies the essence of our programme, and the essence of our programme is Vicky.
I have learnt so much from her, about maths, about working with young people, about how to do my job better ( :-)) ), about her exquisite crafts, and so much more. And I enjoyed her visits to my office to ask after my summer holidays and sharing our enthusiasm for beautiful remote parts of the UK, and even heritage railways! I value highly my experience of working with Vicky and felt valued by her in return. I am very lucky.
She is a wonderful force of nature and a true inspiration.
Michael Bourla
I was so upset to read the news about Vicky. I've never met her or spoken to her, but just watched a few of her videos, especially during lockdown. I was struck by her enthusiasm for the subject, her lovely warm nature, and the evident pleasure she got from sharing both her knowledge and her passion for maths. Such a sad loss, and taken far too early.
Peter Price
I was privileged to work with Vicky at a few UKMT Summer Schools. She was a brilliant teacher who really understood her audience, and a lovely person to work with. Her passion for Mathematics and enthusiasm for sharing it were so infectious.
Rory Bramley
Very saddened to hear that Vicky has passed away. She was an absolutely excellent lecturer who taught me Groups and Group Actions in 2015. Vicky brought the subject alive with her enthusiasm and passion. She will be sorely missed.
Sean Cuddihy
I first met Vicky at a UKMT summer school in Yorkshire - I can remember the exact date because it was the Wimbledon men’s final 2013 and when registering with Vicky I was desperate to get away and watch Andy Murray! Vicky made the week so much fun. Her enthusiasm for maths was infectious and she taught us some fascinating new concepts, while her sense of humour and friendly style made us feel at ease away from home. In later years I was taught by Vicky as my lecturer for first year Group Theory, and then in third year when I was in her Graph Theory class. She was a first class teacher, producing immaculate lecture notes and solutions, and always going the extra mile to explain something another way when we were confused. I will always remember her entertaining style, as well as her colourful trousers!
David Moore
A truly fantastic educator whose lectures I am delighted I had the pleasure of experiencing. It's a devastating loss for not only Vicky's family and friends but also for current and future students who won't benefit from her fantastic teaching. But hopefully it will bring some comfort knowing that for those who did, they will no doubt remember it as fondly as I do.
Xihang Chen
One of my earliest memory of being an undergrad is Vicky's Linear Algebra lectures. Her free flowing passion and pin point accuracy never cease to surprise me. I still remember that she never really had anything at hand when lecturing yet everything she wrote down on the white board was exactly the same as her printed lecture notes - it was utterly amazing to see it in-person! On top of that, she explained the material really quite well and her lecture notes were most definitely fun to read.

Outside of teaching, I also recall me asking questions regarding exam preparations. She always so patiently answered all my questions no matter how obvious some of my questions were - she never had any ego of a well-known lecturer and was so down to earth.

Rest in peace Vicky, you will always be in our memories - a great mathematician, a great lecturer, a great friend and a great human being.
Cong Lu
I was so exceptionally lucky to have met Vicky first during a UKMT summer school during secondary school and then later as my tutor during my undergraduate at Balliol College. I will never forget the infectious energy that she had when explaining maths and the generosity with time she always had for her students. I always felt comfortable explaining my own thought process and benefited so much from her teaching. Such a great sense of humor as well, she also convinced me that Scotland wasn't so gloomy after all. Vicky really made an impression on me on how important her mission of teaching and spreading mathematics was and I can only hope to follow in her footsteps.
Madeleine Cule
I worked alongside Vicky for the NRICH program in Cambridge for a summer before we started our respective PhDs - at the dawn of our professional lives. She stood out then for her brilliance, passion, and clarity of purpose. I was sorry to learn from the More or Less podcast that she had passed recently. May she rest in peace.
Anna Railton
I met Vicky when I was a PhD student in Cambridge and I believe we worked on "Underground Maths" together (certainly some sort of maths outreach if it wasn't that). She was in a different field to me but gave me a lot of support anyway, and one of the small set of people I credit with persuading me to not bail and finish my thesis. I remember being very annoyed when she got a post at Oxford!

Our paths crossed a few years later and it was a great joy to reconnect again. It is a great sorrow to me that that will never happen again. She had a genuinely positive impact on my life and was a fantastic role model both in the field and out of it. She really was one of the good ones and I can't believe she's gone.
Jiayi Wang
Vicky lectured my first year linear algebra and group theory courses, I believe not only for me, but for almost every mathematicians in my cohort, she is the first impression of the maths department here at Oxford. Her passion for teaching deeply touched me and brought me to become a maths tutor in later years.

One thing particularly rooted in my mind was on one revision class on graph theory in my third year, when I was struggling with one of the exam papers, which I sent an email to Vicky asking for help only because I thought she had expertise in this field. Surprisingly she replied within 10 mins with a scanned pdf of solutions, as well as correcting my mistakes. Unfortunately that was the last time we talked, until I heard about the passing of her this year.

A true mathematician values more in influencing others than doing research work, you will be missed and remembered, rest in peace, Vicky!
Barney Maunder-Taylor
Vicky was a fantastic human being. So full of wisdom, energy, so encouraging and giving to her legions of maths students, and of course blessed with that incredible intellect and her knack for communicating complicated mathematical concepts. I learned so much from Vicky and was privileged to consider her a friend as well as a mathematician. I can still picture Vicky now saying "I'm not going to prove that but I can give you a flavour of the proof" and you knew every time you read those words that you were in for a real treat. Her loss is very sad for Balliol, for maths and for us all who knew her.
Louise McMillan
I was very sad to hear of Vicky's passing at such a young age, especially after she wrote so movingly about Maryam Mirzakhani's similarly young death. I was another female maths student in Vicky's year during our undergrad days, and as about 30% of the year were female but relatively fewer females tended to be bold enough to sit in the front at lectures and ask questions, I bumped into Vicky a lot. I fondly remember her delightfully vivid taste in trousers. Then last year I heard her snippet on an episode of the Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, and her voice was so familiar... It's wonderful at least that she was able to teach, support and encourage so many students before she died.
Josie Smith
Thank you Vicky.

You were my Director of Studies at Cambridge, and have taught me so much. Your patience and enthusiasm helped me through many difficult problem sheets, and helped drive my love for mathematics. It is difficult to imagine what my time at uni would have been like without you, and I will forever have a little virtual Vicky pop up in my head whenever I am doing maths, correcting and encouraging me.

First and foremost though, I will be forever grateful to you for sifting through my STEP exams, and inviting me to interview even though I did terribly!

It seems such a waste of a life with incredible potential, for you to die so young.
Thomas Forster
Vicky was never my student, tho' she did come to some of my Part III lectures. I think she was the only person ever to be a director of studies (at New Hall) while still a Ph.D. student. Probably against the rules, but New Hall knew a good thing when they saw one. I remember Sally Lowe, our long-term departmental administrator at DPMMS here in Cambridge, pointing to Vicky and saying "that girl is going to be a Vice-Chancellor one day''. I think Vicky's destiny as a future ruler of the universe was clear to many of us at that time; she was certainly spoken of in those terms. She had a rare talent for getting people to do things that they really didn't want to do, and to achieve it without actually annoying them.

When the university announced that there would be an interdepartmental University Challenge style contest to celebrate the 800th anniversary, naturally the spaced-out mathmos completely ignored it. Vicky, however, thought otherwise, and decided that DPMMS was going to put in a team, and she organised auditions. I didn't go, but a friend of mine told her "you want Thomas Forster - he has more miscellaneous rubbish in his head than anyone else I know'', so Vicky tracked me down and made me sit the test she had devised. So it came that I was put on the team. Vicky organised rehearsals, made us go to pub quizzes and generally kept us on our toes. And then we won!! It was particularly satisfying to despatch the Applied mathematicians. The historians were scary, as was the University Library team (they know even more miscellaneous rubbish than I do). The winners then took on a team of alumni at the 800th garden party and trounced them. Stephen Fry said that the alumni team had decided by five minutes into the contest that their target was to get at least half as many points as DPMMS did. Mathmos rule OK!

After that she rather let the side down by bunking off to The Other Place. When I chided her for this she said "They offered me my dream job''. And now she is no longer there either. A terrible loss; so talented, energetic and companionable. Someone who made things happen. Perhaps the Gods will send us another one like her to try to make amends for taking her from us. Let us not despair.
M Hussain
How tragic... she gave so much in her lifetime and plainly had so much more to give... life is beyond cruel sometimes... to those who can make it happen I say please continue to keep her memory alive and allow the memory of her to endure and to withstand the test of time... 39 years old is no age.
Cathy Shaw
we are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of the marvellous Vicky Neale. what a huge loss. My daughter Isobella and I and the honour of attending one of her lectures at the Oxford open day in 2022. she was truly inspirational, mesmeric, passionate and human. I drew sketches of her whilst my daughter solved the equation she proffered. Our love goes out to her family, friends, colleagues and students. rest in peace Vicky xx
Alice Bateman
I have just heard about Vicky's death on Radio 4's More Or Less programme. I am not a mathematician and never met Vicky but did attend her online lecture on prime numbers and the Twin Primes Conjecture, which was the first of a series on a range of subjects organised by Balliol during lockdown in the spring of 2020. Vicky's lecture was perfectly pitched at an audience that included a lot of non-specialists and was hugely interesting and stimulating. And I loved her prime numbers scarf! It is sad when anyone is taken so young and particularly when, like Vicky, they had so much still to give. My condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
Hayley Horne (Compton)
I was luckily enough to go to school with Vicky, primary and secondary. Even then as a small child you knew you were in the presence of greatness. Her intelligence and brilliance were obvious. I remember doing a project together when we were about 9, creating a map of a fairy tale land and having a discussion about the economics of the town and in particular how the blacksmith would be a thriving business! I hadn't seen her since school and had recently looked her up to see if she was doing something amazing with her life and changing peoples lives; I was thrilled to see that she was sharing her love of mathematics with her students and making a difference with her work. I'm so sorry to hear that she's died but glad that she's left a legacy and she'll be remembered for how wonderful she was.
Olivia Weiner
I first heard about Vicky Neale when I bought her book "Closing the Gap" for my personal statement last year. I was lucky enough to meet Vicky back in April 2022 at the open day when she signed my copy of the book. Her infectious passion for number theory inspired me to research further and her work represents a large part of my personal statement which helped me into many top universities. When I start my degree in September, she will continue to inspire me and I will never forget how much she has helped shape my passion for pure maths and I'm sure that there are so many other sixth form and university students who have also been inspired by her outstanding work.
Beth Thomas
Vicky has been a huge inspiration to me for many years. I first met her at various outreach events while I was in sixth form and considering whether or not to pursue maths. Her engaging presentation style made me realise that maths could be fun, inspiring and was not a field exclusively dominated by men.

Vicky was the reason I applied to Balliol, and I subsequently had many excellent tutorials and lectures from her. She cared so much for her students - after maths classes in Balliol she’d take us all to the Balliol buttery for a drink and a chat. During my second year she started a routine of going on Thursday afternoon walks around Oxford which her students could join in with and I joined her each week I could, sometimes it was just me, sometimes other students too. I had such lovely times on these walks, discovering areas of Oxford I hadn’t seen before (Vicky showed me the Mesopotamia walk, one of her favourites in Oxford). We discussed everything from maths, to maths outreach, to crochet to nature facts of which Vicky had many.

Vicky played such a fundamental role in my maths journey and time at university and lessons she has taught me will live on with me for life.
Jessica Spencer
Vicky Neale was an inspiration and role model for me, not just as a teacher but also as a champion of equal access to maths education. We only overlapped at Oxford for one year, 2014-15, but her down-to-earth manner and excellent teaching made a deep impression. I was in her class for Graph Theory and remember it as one of the highlights of my week. She was also a huge support and source of advice in setting up the Mirzakhani Society, of which she was the senior member.

In the days since she died, I've been thinking a lot about this quote from her, which speaks to what I'm trying to do with my life: "One of the challenges of mathematics is that tackling more sophisticated problems often means first tackling more sophisticated terminology and notation. I cannot find a piece of mathematics beautiful unless I first understand it properly – and that means it can take a while for me to appreciate the aesthetic qualities. I don’t think this is unique to mathematics. There are pieces of music, buildings, pieces of visual art where I have not at first appreciated their beauty or elegance – and it is only by persevering, by grappling with the ideas, that I have come to perceive the beauty."

May her memory be a blessing.
Sam Field
I've known many people with a love of mathematics, but none with the same passion Vicky had for sharing this love with others. I was lucky enough to be tutored by Vicky at Balliol College. She had an incredible understanding of the way mathematics is learned, and always had ways of explaining the most complex concepts that not only made them seem simple, but also revealed the beauty and fascination in each theorem and proof. I had uncountable "Oh, I get it now!" moments in her tutorials and lectures. Her skill, empathy and sense of humour made learning mathematics a joy.

But the parts of Vicky that had the biggest effect on me had nothing to do with mathematics: her kindness and warmth were unparalleled, and I think I speak for many of her students in saying she was a huge factor in making me feel settled in an unfamiliar environment when I started my university studies. She was a trusted source of advice and support who I always felt like I could come to with any problem.

I feel so lucky to have known Vicky and had so many interactions with her. She will be missed by Balliol, the world of mathematics and everyone who knows her.
Aleksandra-Sasa Bozovic
Dear Vicky,

I have first met you when I participated in PROMYS Europe, where you were one of the organisers. I remember attending several of your graph theory lectures, which began with the iconic phrase “it’s graph theory o’clock” and talking to you about crosswords at Bletchley Park. My time at PROMYS had inspired me to apply to study mathematics at Oxford, and I chose to apply to Balliol College, not knowing that you were a tutor there. I remember your interview with me, and how you led me to finding the solutions to the problems I was given. My application was successful in the end, and you became my personal tutor at Balliol. Your lectures were clear and interesting, and your tutorials and classes were very helpful and engaging. You brought much energy and enthusiasm to all your teaching, used many memorable and vivid examples and analogies to bring the material closer to us, and gave us bonus questions which led us to expand our thinking beyond the limits of the courses. Aside from the mathematics itself, you taught us how to work together with each other on mathematical problems, and how to present mathematical ideas in a concise and interesting way.

You were far removed from the stereotypical stuffy and formal image of an Oxford professor, and I remember little things such as your cats intruding in the online classes, the crocheted hedgehogs in your office, and you arriving to our exams in a more casual blue outfit as opposed to the formal attire of the other examiners. You organised many fun activities for the students at Balliol, such as your weekly walks through the parks and meadows of Oxford, which I attended as often as possible before the pandemic. I remember learning about the various birds and flowers in the parks from you, and hearing about your other work in mathematical teaching and outreach. As a personal tutor, you were always warm, caring and approachable, and I could always turn to you for support with applications, exam practice or my general wellbeing, especially during the most stressful times during the pandemic. You advised me about my applications for graduate study, and I am currently studying at a PhD programme which you recommended to me.

I will miss you greatly and always be grateful for the impact your presence in my life has made on my development as a mathematician and a person, and the joy and love for mathematics you brought to your teaching will always be an inspiration to me.
Bojana Bozovic
I feel a need to express my great sorrow over the untimely passing of our dear Professor Vicky Neale.

Not only has she touched the life of my daughter Aleksandra-Saša, but she has shaped and directed it when it was most needed.

In 2017, Aleksandra participated in the PROMYS Europe programme, which inspired her to apply to a course in Mathematics at the University of Oxford. In her application, she chose Balliol College, not knowing that it was the very college where Vicky was a tutor.

Vicky became her personal tutor, who guided her during her four-year course, and had a strong influence not only on her mathematical development, but also her personal growth.

Vicky also suggested to Aleksandra to apply to the London School of Geometry and Number Theory, where she is currently studying for a PhD, and wrote letters of recommendation for her other applications for graduate study.

Last year I had the honour of meeting Vicky and thanking her in person for everything she had done for my daughter, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.
It was a great privilege to know that Aleksandra could turn to Vicky for her advice and assistance in any situation she faced.

She will always live on in our hearts and memories, and we are grateful and proud that she was a part of our lives.
Elena Lombardi
I am a colleague of Vicky’s at Balliol College. I still remember fondly Vicky’s openness, kindness, and wisdom in college meetings, how fun it was to meet her at lunch and hear her talk about so many different things and all the skills that she had. I still remember the exciting online lecture she gave in April 2020 during Covid for the Balliol community: it was entitled ‘Closing the Gap: The Quest to Understand Prime Numbers’: it was so engaging that it made even people like me, who are a bit shy about science and especially mathematics, forget out fears and enjoy maths. I cannot believe she is no longer with us.
Ella Caulfield
My first recollection of Vicky was her giving a sample lecture at an open day I attended in 2017, I remember her style being engaging, and the content she spoke of was exactly the type of maths that I thought I wanted to explore further, and indeed I’ve now covered that content in the third year Number theory course. Between that open day and my application to Oxford I watched a number of lectures on YouTube, many given by Vicky, where she displayed the same skill of engaging the audience and teaching.

Although my application to Balliol College had nothing to do with the fact that Vicky was a tutor there, I was so glad to discover this when I got to interviews And did feel a little starstruck when being interviewed by Vicky, who was great at putting me at ease and also adapting to my additional accessibility needs. The one regret I do have about not getting into Balliol is that I missed out on having Vicky as a tutor for my first two years at Oxford.

Vicky did lecture the Linear Algebra and Groups courses in my first year however, and once again displayed her amazing talent at lecturing, she was able to remember and manipulate large matrices and sets of linear equations, make jokes and tell anecdotes, in short, keep us all engaged and kind of comfortable, despite perhaps feeling quite overwhelmed. Vicky also went an extra step for me when some additional accessibility arrangements were recommended, she was the only one of my first year lecturers to do so, so she rows in my esteem even more!

I was lucky enough to get into The Graph Theory class in my third year tutored by Vicky, even the baseline of her teaching was amazing, but once again she went the extra step for me by producing physical models that I could feel and manipulate so that I could also get the full picture of a Concept we were discussing.
Vicky has been an inspiration, she was an excellent teacher and cared about the experience of her students, particularly going to additional effort to make sure that her teaching was accessible and fun. Her enthusiasm for all the outreach programs that Oxford run also made her a role model for me, as through her and others’ examples, I know that encouraging participation in mathematics and university level mathematics is what I wish to do.

It was a huge shock to hear of Vicky‘s death, I am sad that I will no longer get to experience her teaching, or get to know her further through outreach activities, but I am determined to follow her example as a woman in mathematics, to achieve as much as possible and hopefully encourage future generations of undergraduates through outreach activities.

Vicky, you are a legend, and you will be sincerely missed X
Lisa Pollard
Vicky and I crossed paths a number of times and we shared a love for the work of Mary Everest Boole and curve stitching. I was a pleasure to work with Vicky and to host her at our Boolean Maths Hub conferences, and our roles with MESME maths circles. Her enthusiasm and passion in inspiring future generations to love mathematics will be missed.
Diana Mocanu
I met Vicky in my first undergraduate year, as she was teaching the Groups and Group Actions course and I immediately grew fond of her teaching style and passion for the subject. Since then, she continued to be an inspiration to me. I didn’t miss any occasion to attend her talks or speeches throughout the Maths Institute. I was lucky enough to have dined with her before one of the Invariants talks she gave, and I got to know her kind personality and admired her even more. Her book, “Closing the Gap”, inspired me to pursue a career in Number Theory.

The news of her passing away unspeakably sadden me and I am convinced she will be missed in the department. I find peace in the thought that she will never be forgotten by the many people she inspired throughout her life.
Shati Patel
I haven't interacted with Vicky for a number of years, but the news of her passing still hit hard...

I enjoyed having Vicky as a lecturer, and later as a class tutor. She was passionate and inspirational and I learned a lot through her joke-y and fun teaching style. Not just in a purely mathematical sense, but also how to communicate and teach maths to others.

I also shared her passion for origami and mathematical arts and crafts. I have fond memories of working with her during arts and crafts sessions at the Oxford Maths Festivals.

Thank you, Vicky, for everything you've done. We miss you ♥
Jennifer Rogers
There’s one word that comes to mind when I think of Vicky. And that’s inspiration. Vicky was committed to inspiring the next generation of mathematicians and I was always in awe of her passion for it. She was a true role model and someone to aspire to. Fiercely intelligent and also just the loveliest person to be around. I loved doing events with her, her enthusiasm was infectious. She will a huge loss to the mathematics world and an incredibly huge loss to the public engagement world. Our profession needs more Vickys.
Ben Solomons
Seeing Vicky Neale would be teaching us for Analysis I, and recognising her and her voice from countless BMO solution videos felt like learning from a celebrity. While Analysis I had the potential to be a horribly daunting subject to students new to university maths, Vicky taught with fantastic energy and humour, and made everything easy. The dedication and planning she put into her lectures shone through. She'd disassembled a lamp just so she could get better lighting for her diagrams, with which she managed to make even the most foreign concepts intuitive. She told the most absurd stories, tigers on Broad Street, a shady functions dealer, who was an "unscrupulous individual" for selling you a function without a domain and codomain, and her tales of the 'evil opponent' picking epsilon! She spent hours adding perfect captioning to her lecture videos, responded in detail to all the feedback she received, and worked tirelessly to deliver lectures of the highest quality, which brightened your day to watch. We have lost someone truly special.
Helen Byrne
Dear Vicky

You've helped so many people, in so many ways, it's impossible to do you justice in a few short words.

On EDI committees, you challenged me when I needed to be challenged, but you also supported me when I needed it.

Your ability to find real-world analogies to explain complex mathematical concepts never ceased to amaze me.

And, finally, for putting me at ease when we recorded our cancer podcast, I thank you.

You are sadly missed.

May you rest in peace

Adam Cutts
Vicky was someone who really cared about making other people understand and enjoy maths. In our tutorials, she was always passionate about getting to the very root of what we didn't understand. She really did have a psychic ability to work out when you didn't understand a tricky idea, but were just nodding along, hoping to get away from the scary abstract algebra as quickly as possible. There was nowhere to hide! But she undid the fear of the hard maths, by showing everyone that with enough patience, every detail could be worked out. She gave you confidence in your own ability. This was true at every level, from the general public outreach she did, to the open days at the Maths Institute, to the tutorials we had at Balliol. She was a gift to teaching and I will dearly miss her as a tutor.
Jane Taylor
I was lucky enough to work with Vicky on many occasions and was always struck by how generously and enthusiastically she would volunteer her time to supporting the various projects I was involved in. Vicky was always one of the first people I would call upon whenever I set out on a new project to improve students learning experiences, not just because I knew that it was an issue about which Vicky cared deeply, but also because she would always open up new ways of thinking about what ever question it was that we were trying to answer. She never did things by halves and when she volunteered to contribute to a project I knew she would have read everything down to the last detail and would have so much valuable feedback to pass on. In her feedback, she was never afraid to challenge and question, and she did so with consideration and kindness. I feel very fortunate to have had so many thoughtful and enjoyable conversations with Vicky about teaching and learning. It is so saddening to know that we won’t have any more of these conversations or opportunities to work together, and that is such a huge loss to so many.
Peter Ransom
I got to know Vicky well when we were both on the London Mathematical Society's Education Committee in the 2010s, where it transpired that as a teenager she had attended one of the Saturday morning mathematics masterclass I'd given in the 1990s. Her wit, wisdom and good advice at meetings were greatly appreciated. Our paths continued to cross over the years at the LMS and at The Mathematical Association's annual conferences. She gave a stunning and entertaining after dinner talk at the MA's Annual Conference in Oxford in 2016 on twin primes. She inspired so many mathematicians of all ages, giving talks at UKMT masterclasses for 13/14 year olds and sessions for student mathematics teachers. In 2021 I bought some oboe and cor anglais reeds on eBay and what a surprise! It was Vicky who sold them to me, so we had a good e-chat about the merits of playing the cor anglais. What an amazing person she was with hidden talents.
Lilly Hong
Though I was never formally taught by Vicky, I recall the buzz around L1 in the minutes leading up to what would have been her first lecture for Analysis I 2022-2023. Even us freshers knew her to be a phenomenal and enthusiastic lecturer!

Before coming to Oxford, I recall watching her YouTube videos and feeding off her infectious love for mathematics. What struck me was how she would often ‘gamify’ maths to simplify otherwise complex concepts. Her passion, both for mathematics and teaching, really came through in that regard.

Hearing of her passing surprisingly shocked me, but her legacy clearly lives on. I hope to embody the love of mathematics that she so greatly had and equally inspire others to get involved.
Rachel Massey-Chase
I was at secondary school with Vicky and her love of maths was fundamental to her identity from such an early age. We were part of a public speaking team together and her chosen topic for the speech was maths (starting off the speech in German to make the point that to many people maths is like a foreign language). She wanted to share her passion with others and was incredibly skilled at making the subject accessible and relevant even to non mathematicians. I am so pleased that she had such a fantastic career in the subject that she loved and it is wonderful to hear how many lives she touched and inspired. It is clear that she will be missed by many and that she leaves a legacy of inspiration to young mathematicians.
Joo-Hyun Kim
I remember Vicky as the one who helped me survive the pure modules in the first and second year. When I asked questions, instead of giving straight answers, she would often ask questions back in the way that guided me into answering my own questions.

Truly she was one of the best educators and inspirations. Thank you Vicky.
Yuan Yuan Zheng
Vicky was my supervisor for first year Probability and second year Complex Analysis, when she was still a PhD student. I was struggling with Complex Analysis. Vicky generously regraded a long example sheet which I redid after doing the readings she recommended. It’s a book I still carry with me after numerous moves.

I was in fact struggling with Maths overall, and started art school application in my second year of undergraduate Maths. Luckily Vicky was the Number theory lecturer in my third year. Those lectures are still the best I have ever had. Although not a member of Murray Edwards College, I started participating in the weekly maths quizzes and the maths crafts at the college, all organized by Vicky.

The experience converted me back to Maths, encouraged me to get more involved in maths events, and eventually convinced me to continue for Part III and a PhD.

On a sunny afternoon during my PhD, I suddenly remembered a silly probability question I asked Vicky in a first-year supervision. Vicky left it as an exercise for me, without answering it. By the time I remembered it again, the answer was obvious. Everything seemed to be much easier after a few years in the field. But Vicky was always humble when explaining her thoughts. From her I learnt how to take one step at a time and start from easy examples when tackling a hard problem, which I am benefiting until today.

Thank you, Vicky. We will miss you very much.
Waldemar Schlackow
I first met Vicky at the Young Researchers in Mathematics conference in 2009 in Cambridge, though I didn't really get to know her until she started at Maths in Oxford. Our initial interactions with Vicky were through my IT work where her requests were always pleasantly accurate, always very friendly yet determined and constantly in the spirit of collaboration of trying to resolve an individual or systemic issue. Vicky always spotted if something that affected her may also affect others and always tried to resolve the issues she was experiencing for others.

I then had the privilege of working very closely with Vicky over the pandemic to create hybrid teaching concepts and docs which had to be done very quickly when the pandemic suddenly hit. Vicky always did everything with such a passion be it recording videos, creating pictures, coming up with creative new ideas (streaming handwritten lectures by balancing a phone on a pile of books was a great hit). Vicky also was a very strong driving force behind creating the most user friendly and yet feature rich VLE for the department and she always considered the issues that were important to students, faculty and staff. She was always very understanding of the issues of the various groups constantly trying to improve on her ideas.

Whilst working with her, I got to regularly see her cats on the screen, which she was very fond of, and talk to her about fun maths things, such as Vicky's mathematical knitting. Later my kids also got to experience her passion, ideas and friendly guidance at the various MathsFest events where she would, as usual, dedicate a lot of her time to promote mathematics to kids of all ages.

When teaching Mathematics, I was lucky to teach some of the courses that Vicky designed and lectured, and whenever she took on a new course, she would rework the notes and problem sheets meticulously typing everything up and also providing extremely detailed solutions to tutors often with multiple ways to solve a problem. Vicky's materials were of such a high quality that as far as I can see most if not all are still in use long after she stopped lecturing the course. My students were also always very complimentary of her teaching.

I will very much miss working with and talking to Vicky. She was such a humble and witty person and at the same time she was extremely professional, well organised and very smart. She managed to retain all those qualities throughout her illness, when she continued working tirelessly and volunteering whenever she could, which must have been so very hard. Vicky very strongly touched mine and my family's life and I will always remember her and try and learn from her as best I can.

Vicky is such a very sad loss to all of us and to all of mathematics.
Dan Abramson
I first heard about Vicky from a colleague at King's Maths School, who described her as a much-loved and brilliant teacher and tutor. Our students have been lucky enough to be welcomed by her at Oxford several times, always with a fascinating mathematical talk/activity which opened their minds to the wonders of number theory. Those who have attended PROMYS Europe have returned with their passion for mathematics (alongside their knowledge and understanding) multiplied. Her dedication, insight and care is second to none, and I've come to see this through the many conversations we've had discussing MESME's maths circles, which have thrived through her work as an early supporter and Trustee. Vicky's love for mathematics was infectious. Her warmth, kindness, curiosity and professionalism will be sorely missed. May her memory be an inspiration to us all.
Alexander Gordon
My interactions with Vicky were almost exclusively in the context of the department's Good Practice/EDI committee, where I think we all benefited from her contributions to make the department a pleasanter and more equitable place to work and to study. I particularly valued her work (with Chris Hollings) on diversifying the mathematics curriculum and her work (with Jenni Ingram and Ursula Martin) to examine how interactions between various background characteristics impact attainment outcomes for students. Whilst neither of these issues might now be said to be resolved, Vicky made material progress to move the department in the right direction. I am sorry that we will no longer enjoy her generosity of spirit, but am grateful for her gift of it when she was here.
Auri Guarino
I found Vicky a real inspiration in school. Her online lectures and open day talks made maths seem so exciting and accessible – a feeling that I was not able to get from school. This motivated me to apply to Balliol and, after a (really quite fun) interview with Vicky where we discussed a problem involving bugs of different colours colliding, I was very fortunate to be accepted to Balliol. Vicky was a brilliant tutor – the benchmark for what an educator should be. She made every problem clear and accessible, and had a remarkable knack for figuring out what exactly is the core of my confusion and clearing it up. She was always on hand to receive questions outside of tutorials (whether through emails or office hours) and went far out of her way to answer them (including giving extra problems, hints, and offering one-on-one calls to clear things up if needed). I must add that Vicky was also an incredibly kind and thoughtful person who really cared about her students. Vicky’s enthusiasm, love for maths and education, and her calm and kind nature continue to inspire me today.
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