About Us

To understand why Inspiration for Life has been set up, and what it aims to do, you’ll need to read Tim’s Story. This is Tim’s vision, and all those of us involved with the charity are working to make it a reality.  We know that many of those who work with us today never had the privilege of meeting Tim.  You can get a sense of him through his diary, For When I’m Sleeping – but most of us have been touched by cancer, directly or indirectly, and we do this work not just for Tim but for the people special to us who we have lost, or who are facing cancer now.

What do we do? We put on a range of activities aiming to promote lifelong learning, and encourage the public understanding of science – publications, lectures and other events. We work within and beyond the University, linking up with schools and other organisations that share these goals.

We encourage students in Physics & Astronomy through the award of prizes each year for those who through their achievements—academic and otherwise—have provided inspiration for others. Working with the Snowdon Trust, we help to overcome the barriers which face students with disabilities by providing grants to support their studies.

The funds we raise through these activities cover minimal necessary costs (printing, etc) but are then channeled to organisations who can fulfill other aspects of the vision—particularly research into the treatment of cancer, and support for cancer patients. We are working in partnership with a number of charities, in particular Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity,  Rotherham Hospice,  Impact Living  and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Tim was an inspiration to so many people. He faced the huge challenge that was cancer with his usual generosity and humour. He used his experience of cancer to empower himself to do the things that were important to him, and through Inspiration for Life we, and you, can be part of that.

We hold a number of activities to raise funds, most notably the annual 24 Hour Inspire, a 24 hour lecture marathon inspired by the amazing solo 24 hour marathon which Tim undertook in 2011, and which raised funds for Children in Need.  You can find out more about this event elsewhere on our site.   We also field a team of runners each year for the Endcliffe Park 10k (Sheffield TenTenTen), which raises funds for Weston Park.  Many of our supporters undertake their own individual fundraising challenges too.

Inspiration for Life needs your support to grow and to achieve Tim’s vision. You can support us not only through donations but by participating in our projects, contributing your ideas and enthusiasm, and spreading the word.

Inspiration for Life Board of Trustees

Chair – Greg Oldfield


Greg Oldfield is Head of Public Engagement with Research at the University of Sheffield. Greg leads a team of professionals supporting academics across the University to bring their research to the public through festivals, events, sponsorship and regional partnerships. The team has delivered the University’s Festival of the Mind, “Ideas Alive at 5:45” as part of Off the Shelf and Mobile University. Greg’s previous roles have included Head of Fundraising at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and Corporate Fundraising Manager at Cancer Research UK and Corporate Fundraiser at ChildLine. Greg recently completed an MA in Working with Communities at the University of Sheffield, enjoys listening to a wide range of music, is a keen thriller and science fiction reader, an Agatha Christie superfan and enthusiastic spinner.

Treasurer – Dr Mike Weir


Mike did his PhD in the Physics & Astronomy department, and worked at the Bragg Institute of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and the materials science publishing team at Elsevier Ltd, before returning to Sheffield as a post-doctoral research associate.


Catherine Annabel

Cath 2014

Catherine was the Chair of Inspiration for Life from its beginnings in 2012 until 2020. Now retired after many years in HE admin (including 9 years in the Physics & Astronomy department, which is where she met Tim), she is doing a part-time PhD in French, and blogs in a personal capacity at Passing Time.

Professor Ingunn Holen

ingunnIngunn is a biologist who has worked in cancer research for more than 20 years. She joined the Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology as a Lecturer in 2001 and is currently Professor in Bone Oncology and Head of the Breast Cancer Laboratory Research Team. Ingunn studied Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Oslo, Norway and was awarded her PhD in 1995, before moving to Sheffield to take up a post as a post-doctoral research associate.  She is particularly interested in how cancer spreads and colonises new sites, including the skeleton. Ingunn works closely with charities, including Weston Park  Cancer Charity and Breast Cancer Now, to increase public understanding of cancer research.

Professor Tony Ryan

tonyryanprofileTony Ryan is Professor of Chemistry and former Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield. His research covers the synthesis, structure, processing and properties of polymers and he was in at the beginning of polymer nanotechnology. He has co-authored more than 200 papers and 8 patents and written a book on polymer processing or how things are made from plastic. Tony is a regular contributor to TV, radio and newspapers. He was born in Leeds and got his three degrees from UMIST. Married with two daughters, Tony is a creative cook, a keen cyclist and an occasional mountaineer with a weakness for gadgets. He was made an OBE in 2006 for ‘Services to Science’.

Dr Chris Sexton

chris sexton

Chris Sexton retired from her post of Director of Corporate Information & Computing Services at the end of December 2016. Chris started working at the University on 1 October 1980 after completing her PhD in Genetics here in Sheffield.  Before being appointed as Director of Corporate Information & Computing Services in 1996, Chris held a number of other posts in University administration including in the Academic Secretary’s Office, Head of Administration, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and Director of Corporate Information. A unique leader, at national events she continues to inspire, challenging perceptions of women in IT with her love of gadgets, family, clog dancing and tattoos.

Andy Tattersall

Andy T

Andy joined ScHARR in 2001 after working as a journalist, with a remit to provide support and guidance to staff and students in their use of technology and information resources. His role is to scan the horizon for opportunities relating to research, teaching and collaboration and maintain networks that support this.  Since 2016, Andy has been involved in Radio Inspire, the pop-up radio station which broadcasts throughout the 24 Hour Inspire event.

Co-opted members:

Sue Grant

Dr Matt Mears

Professor Lee Thompson