Tim Richardson – your tributes

MIKE WEIR (former PhD student) It was very, very sad to learn of Tim’s death.  He’d been an inspiration to a lot of people and to me, a thoroughly, exceptionally nice bloke and the truest of gentlemen.

GARY MIZLER (former undergraduate) As an ex student of Tim’s I can honestly say I have never met a more genuine, friendly and approachable person than Tim.  Tim was an inspiration to all my classmates and others around the department.  Famed for his typical “Dad” jokes, and excellent sense of humour Tim was a firm favourite of all and the one person many of us could count on when the stresses of academic life took their toll.  A great loss to the world.

ANGELA BOWDERY  Tim taught my daughter Loui for the first 2 years of her studies at Sheffield.  I will always be grateful for the help, support and kindness he showed to her.  I know from how she talks about him that he was a truly special man.

SAMIR DAWOUD (IOP Student Liaison Officer (2005-2007) As former student liaison officer at the IOP, I worked closely with Dr. Richardson in his capacity as local IOP representative within the department. He was extremely enthusiastic about science communication and engagement, encouraging his students to become active participants in the scientific and wider community. In this regard he was proactive in encouraging his students to take up IOP membership and was responsible for recruiting hundreds of students over the years. Such was Dr. Richardson’s enthusiasm for supporting these activities, it was his own students from The University of Sheffield that spearheaded the members’ committee that delivered the highly successful International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) 2007 in London for Nexus – the IOP’s student wing. This conference was the largest event Nexus had ever undertaken and its success was a testament to the determination and enthusiasm that Dr. Richardson instilled in those he taught. He was a charismatic and engaging character and (even to an infrequent visitor to his classroom such as myself) the special bond between him and his students was evident at all times. Certainly, the IOP owes him a debt for the services he voluntarily provided during his time as local representative.

ADAM HOBSON (PhD student) The loss of Tim was a terrible shock and so sudden. He’s left a big hole in the department and in our hearts and we really truly miss him.

ROSIE BROOK (former PhD student) You were a wonderful person Tim, you made such a difference to my life.   You were the most amazing supervisor and friend. I  would never have succeeded without you. You inspired me and supported me and were so much fun. We shall miss you such a lot.

GRAHAM LEGGETT (colleague and research collaborator) Tim was a very fine colleague and he will be very greatly missed; indeed, he is already being greatly missed.

LIZA JONES (former PhD student) Farewell Timbo, you were the best phD supervisor a girl could wish for, without your support I’m not sure I’d have succeeded. You were the most genuine, humorous and inspirational person and you will be missed.

ANDY ECCLESTON (former research assistant )  I was only a brief apparition in Hicks and privileged to have been so.  I was a fish out of water, but of all the amazing people I met during my time in the building Tim was the most accommodating, the most engaging, the warmest.  I know I achieved little during my residency and that the mission in sci-art terms was pretty much a failure, but what it did teach me was that I should’ve walked passed all those art college doors and studied physics instead.  Tim was a true inspiration and I’ll miss him.

ANDY LLEWELLYN (former student) Tim – you were an inspirational lecturer to me and I’ll always remember your exuberant and humorous style.

ANDY COLE (PhD student)    Tim is a massive inspiration to me and one of the main reasons why I continued on through the hard times and made it to the end of my degree.  He inspired me over and over again and I cannot stress highly enough how grateful I am to him for all the support he afforded me over the years.

ALISTAIR WARREN (Faculty Head of Learning & Teaching)  I will miss our chats in Coffee Revolution, which started on the theme of ‘Learning & Teaching’ but usually progressed to a wide variety of entirely unrelated topics meaning that we were both usually late for our next appointment!  Tim was a genuinely ‘nice guy’ about whom I never heard anyone say other than good things: I will miss him.

HARRY BLYTHE (retired member of staff in P&A) Tim was simply the nicest person in the Dept and the way that he bore his illness was a shining example to us all.

CHRIS ATKINS (PhD student) I first met Tim as an undergraduate almost ten years ago and was always struck by his enthusiasm for teaching physics, as well as his openness, good humor and positive attitude to life. He was always there to give me his advice and words of wisdom when I needed them, as well as a friendly chat whenever we crossed paths in the department. The University has lost an inspirational teacher and scientist, and I and many other people have lost a dear friend.

JOHN WILLIAMS (retired member of staff in P&A) – I know Tim is missed enormously within the Department and the University. He was doing a job he loved and was marvellous with students who thought very highly of him. Tim will leave a great gap everywhere, most importantly within the family.

DEEPAK MAHTANI (former undergraduate) Tim was the kindest, most generous person I every had the pleasure of knowing. He would always take the time to talk to me. He helped me so much from my first day to the day I graduated.  I will forever be grateful to him for all that he did for me.

LOUISE BENDALL (former undergraduate)  Tim was a great man and when I was a physics student he was a huge inspiration to me and really helped me through my studies – I am pretty sure that without him I wouldn’t still be working in the field of physics. He will be sadly missed.

FRANCESCA QUACQUARELLI (former PhD student)  This loss is immense. I regard myself as extremely lucky for having met this man and shared a little time with him.  But Tim’s legacy is exemplar to us for the enjoyment in life and in the mission he has been able to accomplish of inspiring and enthusing in physics and beyond in all aspects of life. We all know this. Each of us will carry what Tim has left in them. Personally I’ll always feel that little kiss on the forehead after a dinner we had at Christmas last year, as a father would give to a child past his/ her bedtime! I will always remember his greetings in Italian and the conversations proceeding from them, not to mention his help in my research. Everybody was dear to his heart, students were an extension of his family. I just want to say Ciao Tim! Ciao bello!

DARREN WHITE (PhD student)   He was an amazing lecturer and friend to all of us who knew him.

LIZ WALTON (former pre-med student) Tim taught me and a bunch of other hapless pre-med students in the early 90s. He was so kind and patient with us – we had studied arts a-levels but needed to pass pre-med to gain access to medicine.
We were/are all useless at science but Tim was the only lecturer who took the time to actually “teach” us. I have often thought of his kindness & patience over the years.

JULIE SPEAKMAN   Oh Tim, we are all so lucky to have had you in our lives at some point. You were a pleasure to work with and are an inspiration to so many people. I will always remember you with such fondness and respect. Thank you so much for all your help and time and laughter over the years.

SAM SHERRATT   One of the great guys and universally liked and respected by anyone who met him. RIP Uncle Tim

SAM HADDOCK  Genuinely one of the greatest people I ever had the good fortune to meet, absolutely fantastic guy and amazing tutor.

LEDIO YLLI  Tim I cannot thank you enough for your inspiration and help throughout my time at Sheffield uni, you were a lecturer, a mentor, and above all a FRIEND with a laughter larger than life itself. I will never forget what you have done for me till the day I join you on the other side, you have been there through thick and thin, through happy days and sad days you have been a true friend all the time.

COLIN DOOLING  He was the nicest and most inspirational person I ever met and could always make you laugh. It’s a shame when people do so much for others die so young. The world has lost a true star…

BEN ROBINSON  Tim Richardson was a mentor, a colleague and, I’m proud to say, friend.   His lectures were the stuff of legend and he will be missed so much by so many people.

LOUI BOWDERY  The most wonderful, inspirational man any of us could have hoped to have met. You were a wonderful lecturer, a friend to all, and one very special human being. We’ll all miss you dearly. Thanks for the memories xxx

LUKE UNSWORTH  The world has lost a great man. He was a great inspiration and a pleasure to be around. He will be sorely missed by all.  Here is a recording of Tim teaching the conservation of angular momentum – Enjoy the greatness of Uncle Tim

RACHEL O’LEARY  The last time I saw Tim he was crossing the road outside Ranmoor Village, presumably going to visit his son. I was in such a hurry that I didn’t even stop to let him cross but had I known the sad news that was to follow, I would have got out of the car and had a chat. He was the most supportive and enthusiastic lecturer I have ever known and no problem was too big or small to be dealt with; he was a friendly face for everyone. He was such a genuine bloke, nothing he ever did seemed to be for the glory, but his Senate Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching could not have been more deserved. The fortitude and selflessness with which he faced his final months is truly amazing and with his inspiration, I hope to face my own times of adversity with similar courage and good humour. It was an absolute honour to have known Tim and the lasting impression he made on those around him will certainly live on as his charity, Inspiration for Life, goes from strength to strength.

MARK SUGDEN  He was a great man, lovely to be around and a pleasure to have met. Without him I would not have passed my PhD, I will never forget him x

MATT CONROY  A truly inspirational man who made every physics undergraduate’s first days at Sheffield that little bit funnier

MICHAEL WINROW   You weren’t just my lecturer or tutor but a friend. A genuine inspiration who helped me and countless others with anything and everything we needed.

HANNAH SERGEANT  The most inspirational lecturer I have ever met. Always willing to go above and beyond to make sure his students are ok. I can’t imagine Uni without you, and I owe you a lot. Lots of physics love, we’ll continue your inspirational legacy

GUSTAVO de MIGUEL  We were so lucky to know such a great person. We will never forget your love and affection to everyone visiting you.

PROFESSOR CHARLES STIRLING (Department of Chemistry) I was involved with Tim from his earliest times in Sheffield as Gareth Roberts had asked me to be on the appointment committee for his lectureship because of my involvement in the chemistry of surfaces . Tim, of course, was expert in the physics of surfaces.  Tim and I had a very useful collaboration on the behaviour of surfaces. He provided the instrumental and interpretative input and we provided the chemistry.  We published four papers together all of which were with my post-doc Frank Davies who was very able at collaborating with those in other disciplines.  Tim was unfailingly helpful in providing access to instrumentation for all of our work and we had frequent discussions of projects that we could both usefully contribute to. The other aspect of Tim’s career that I was associated with was his outreach  in popularisation of science. He was always willing to be involved and took great delight in talking to audiences of all sorts. His 24-hour lecture marathon of course was a remarkable and unusual event which we all applauded.  In my view, the best memorial that Tim can  have would be in the setting of his example to others who may be nervous about talking to non-expert audiences and particularly to children.  I hope they’ll be able to overcome any inhibitions in the way he clearly was so very able to do. Following his enthusiastic example will give nothing but interest to audiences and satisfaction to  presenters.

DANIEL HILL (former undergraduate) Tim made the transition into university physics a pleasure for all the undergraduates he taught. He was such a genuine and likeable man who will be sorely missed. I count myself lucky to have been taught by him and hope to one day be a fraction of the teacher he was to me.

NEIL COWLAM (retired member of staff in P&A) Tim Richardson was not just a good friend, but also someone I collaborated with on a number of successful research projects, with jointly supervised Ph D students. Tim always seemed to have a higher than average load of teaching, administrative and research duties. He did everything that he was ever asked to do cheerfully and with 110% effort. I find it hard to believe that we could ever replace him.

ROGER OLIVANT (retired member of staff in P&A) I have many memories of Tim both as a colleague and a friend.  We got on well from the day we met, which was on his first visit to the Physics Department prior to his official start date. Tim and Professor Roberts came to discuss among other things  the requirements for the laboratory space we had offered him on his appointment.  From that very first day we hit it off and became not only colleagues but good friends. Tim was really pleased that we could no only offer him a “clean room” but also some technical workshop support to modify it. He did say later on that he had thought he was going to have to do the modification on his own.
In those early days we used to meet up at the Goodwin Recreation Centre, or walk up together some  lunchtimes for a run ( it was a run in those days, would be a jog now). My memories of those lunch times  chatting about  all sorts of things while running round taking our minds off work. Then afterwards walking back to the department and perhaps chat about work related issues.
I am sure it has been said many times before but the way he dealt with his illness is a lesson to us all and his legacy will live on in the Department and the University for many years to come. I only hope that if it ever happens to me I am able to take inspiration from Tim’s attitude and act in the same way.
God bless.

JANICE LAKE  (I came to know Tim when I asked for help when trying to publish a paper on plant responses to UV-B – I was working in APS at the time – and without him and his encouragement – the paper would never have been published (as it eventually was in a high impact journal). It took 3 years to convince my peers that I was correct – and Tim helped me enormously with UV measurements (repeatedly!) to get it right!)

I’m sorry I cannot be there with your family, friends and peers, but your warm encouragement will radiate like the inevitable rays of the sun, to touch, inspire and gently move forwards, as a light  that cannot be stopped. With the fondest regards.

JULIE ASKEW (Outreach Officer) A truly inspirational person.   I was also born in 1964 and Tims death and his reflections have reminded me to stop and appreciate the simple things that are so easily ignored in a busy life.

SIMON BATTY (former postdoc)  I worked for Tim for two years (1994-1996) and can honestly say that it was a very enjoyable couple of years. Tim was a friend more than a boss, you just naturally felt comfortable in his company. He rarely had to push people to get results or complete their work, he naturally created the right atmosphere that motivated them.  I very much regretted that the funds were not available for me to carry on working with him.  Tim was extremely popular with the students; they felt ‘at ease’ talking to him, something only a few lecturers can say.

CHRIS DUFFY (former PhD student) I remember when I was writing my thesis. I had a bit of a tough time in my personal life during my PhD. I must have looked sad or stressed in the corridor when Tim put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘It will be okay Chris, you’re nearly there.’. I’m a lecturer myself now. A remarkable teacher whom I shall never forget.

RUTH ARNOLD (Corporate Affairs, UoS) I would like to write a tribute to a man I never met in person. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t met him in other ways. I have met his influence in others. I have seen the way his love of teaching, his spirit of fun, his honesty and his energy move them. And I have had the very great privilege of reading his own personal thoughts about life and meaning in his beautiful book which I was honoured to help publish and whose words affected me deeply. I also met him through the 24 hour lectures, a legacy of curiosity and joy, mixed up with students and staff talking about their ideas in their dressing gowns. Sometimes a person impacts others in ways they might never imagine, without ever claiming to be a saint. The evidence of who Tim was is visible in so many ways, and it is very beautiful.

LEE THOMPSON (colleague in P&A) It’s impossible to summarise an individual as special as Tim in a short passage of prose. For a start there are so many adjectives to describe Tim: thoughtful, kind, considerate, selfless, genuine, funny, honest, compassionate, the list goes on and on.  Tim always made time for you, he treated everyone as equals and always put you at ease. Over our many pub lunches together Tim became a close friend and confidante. We would spend our lunch hour catching up with each others lives, sharing hopes and aspirations, putting the world to rights and trying to avoid sounding like grumpy old men. One thing that shone through all of my time with Tim was his tremendous love for his family and his pride for their achievements. Tim excelled in so many things away from the workplace, from painting to DIY, from learning languages to music; Tim’s zest for life was contagious and inspirational.

Tim handled his prognosis in the same irrepressible way as he approached life, looking for the positives. He sought to turn bad into good, seeking to help others through writing a diary and establishing a charity. He battled the disease with humour, honesty and dignity.

Tim was a dear friend and very special person, I miss him.


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