The 24 Hour Inspire

The 24 Hour Inspire 2020 was due to take place on 12-13 March (5 pm to 5 pm) in The Diamond building at the University of Sheffield. However, this date would have conflicted with industrial action by the UCU, which involves teaching, research and many administrative staff.

In light of this, and of the dilemma that would have been caused to speakers, volunteers and audience members if we were to ask them to cross picket lines or in any way to be seen to undermine the strike action, we have decided, with regret, that we should postpone the event.

The 24 Hour Inspire is a joyful occasion and a celebration of the University as an intellectual community, in addition to its fundraising purpose. We have been delighted by the positive response to our call for speakers, and from so many colleagues in the University. We believe passionately in this event, and its potential to bring people together, to celebrate our community and, of course, to raise vital funds for cancer charities.

We are therefore planning to hold the 24 Hour Inspire in autumn 2020, we hope in the same venue. We’ll update this page as we have a definite date, so keep an eye on the website – and our blog page will have lots of info on the programme a bit nearer the time.

The 24 Hour Inspire is Inspiration for Life’s flagship fundraising event.  Put simply, it’s a 24 hour lecture marathon, featuring back to back talks, mainly half an hour in length, on life, the universe and everything, all accessible to a non-specialist audience.  It raises funds through the sale of tickets and refreshments, and through general donations.

The idea came from Tim Richardson.  In 2011, before he was ill, he did a solo 24 hour lecture marathon in aid of Children in Need.  It was an amazing achievement – he pushed himself to his limits, and his students and colleagues backed him all the way, keeping the lecture theatre full even in the small hours.  So when we started to think about an event to raise funds for our new charity, it was very obvious what form it should take.

As we began to organise it, we knew already that Tim wouldn’t be well enough to take part.  He was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June 2012, and was able to be involved in the initial stages of setting up the charity, but by the end of that year it was clear that he was slipping away.  We went ahead with the event, with the blessing of his family, and it took place just a few weeks after his funeral.

We had no idea at that point that this would become an annual event.  But the enthusiasm we tapped into, not only from people who’d known Tim but from so many others, from speakers and volunteers alike, told us that we should go on.  And so we did, and we have continued to attract new speakers, new volunteers, and new audiences.

The event is not a memorial.  It’s a celebration of everything Tim believed in – of learning and teaching, of sharing knowledge and enthusiasm, of inspiration.