Tim Richardson, 1964-2013

tim pic

Tim Richardson, who died of cancer aged 48, was an inspirational teacher, an outstanding scientist and a man of enormous warmth, humour, and generosity.

Tim was born at North Ferriby, 5th April 1964.  The family moved to York when Tim was 3, and at 18 he went to Durham University to study Physics, where he met his wife, Sue.   After graduating, Tim studied for a DPhil at the University of Oxford with the late Professor Sir Gareth Roberts.  He and Sue married in June 1988;  their sons were born in 1993 and 1995.

In 1989 Tim was awarded his DPhil and became a Research Engineer for Thorn EMI.  In 1991 he joined the Physics & Astronomy Department at Sheffield, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 1997, and Reader in 2007.   Over the course of his research career Tim published 152 papers in scientific journals and supervised 28 PhD students.

Tim will be remembered for his inspirational teaching, and for his role as head of Year 1 Physics in which capacity he helped countless students to make the transition to university. In November 2011 he did a grueling 24 hour lecture marathon in aid of Children in Need, raising over £8000, with talks for everyone from primary school children to academics, all with his trademark humour and imaginative demonstrations that made the science accessible and fun. His contributions to teaching were recognised in January 2013 with a Senate Award for Sustained Excellence in Learning & Teaching from the University.

Tim loved music, gardening, walking, fishing.  He was a writer and a painter and at the time of his illness was studying for an OU modern languages degree, and participating in the University’s leadership programme.

In June 2012, Tim was told that he had terminal cancer.  Typically, he wanted to use his experience to help others, and so with colleagues he set up a charity (Inspiration for Life), and started to keep a diary,  which will be published to raise funds for cancer charities.

Tim underwent chemotherapy but sadly his condition declined, and he died at home, with his family around him, on 5th February 2013.

Tim is survived by his wife Sue, sons Matt and Liam, parents, Keith and Barbara and sister Susan.  He is also remembered with deep affection and gratitude by generations of students and by many colleagues, for whom he remains an inspiration.

2 thoughts on “Tim Richardson, 1964-2013

  1. You motivated me living with an aim of inspiring and helping other people! My dad is an oncologist and cancer researcher who dedicated his life to alleviate patient’s pain and inform non-specialists of an early symptom of cancer sign. I am with great appreciation and gratitude that for all cancer-fighter, and hold the deepest sympathy of those patients who have been suffered. If I have met you before you passed away, I might choose to become a scientist who is fighting to cure cancer at the forefront! Science can be accessible and fun! It is so privileged to be a member of the University of Sheffield, where surrounded by astounding and outstanding people!

  2. Tim was my tutor in my undergraduate Physics degree ’91-’94. I’ll never forget him, and was so sad to learn of his untimely passing. He’s responsible for my actually obtaining a degree through his incredibly caring and supportive teaching style. RIP,

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