Lecturer’s ‘vibrant legacy’ is inspirational charity

Tim Richardson, University of Sheffield
Tim Richardson, University of Sheffield

A LECTURER at the University of Sheffield who died of cancer has launched a charity to raise funds for research, hospice care and education.

Colleagues of Dr Tim Richardson, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, describe Inspiration for Life as “a vibrant legacy which will give something back to education and help people of all ages affected by cancer”.

The first event is tonight (Thursday) - a 24 hour ‘science-a-thon’ with lectures by experts at the university on a wide range of subjects including asteroids, magic, extraterrestrial life forms, music, human rights and infinity.

Dr Richardson, a member of staff from 1991 to 2012, died on February 5 at the age of 48 after being diagnosed in June last year with cancer. Tests showed he had bowel cancer, then it was found the primary cancer was in his oesophagus.

He recorded his thoughts in a diary, which colleagues said reflected his characteristic honesty, courage and humour and experiences, from diagnosis to the post-chemotherapy scan results.

The new charity will be publishing the diary initially as an ebook, For When I’m Sleeping.

Given nine to 12 months to live, Dr Richardson reflects on the love of his family - he leaves wife Sue and sons Matt and Liam - illness, education and meaning, expressing the desire to help “people in more need than yourself”, which prompted the setting up of Inspiration for Life.

The ‘science-a-thon’ is being held at the university’s Hicks Building from 5pm tonight until 5pm tomorrow.

Lectures for non-specialist audiences will be given by Vice-Chancellor Prof Sir Keith Burnett, Prof Richard Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Prof Tony Ryan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Science, and Prof Dan Tovey, who helped find the Higgs Boson particle at CERN. Tickets are available on the door, with a minimum donation of £1 per lecture or £5 for the full programme.

Catherine Annabel, who chairs the Board of Trustees of Inspiration for Life, said: “Tim raised more than £8,000 for Children In Need with 24 hours of back-to-back lectures at the university in 2011, which we used as an inspiration for this week’s event. Inspiration for Life will allow health research funding, hospice funding and funding for education to be delivered as a result of the very varied range of charitable activities that university staff and students and others beyond carry out.

“There will be a range of activities aiming to promote lifelong learning, and encourage the public understanding of science – publications, lectures and other events. We’ll work within and beyond the university, linking up with schools and other organisations who share these goals.

“We’ll also encourage students in physics and astronomy through the award of prizes each year for those who have provided inspiration for others, academic and otherwise.”