Monday, 24 March 2014

The 24 Hour Inspire 2014

The 24 Hour Inspire will take place on the 27th and 28th of March 2014.

Back when I was a Ph.D. student during my first stint at the University of Sheffield I had the pleasure to share a department with Dr. Tim Richardson, a gregarious, outgoing and altruistic Reader in Physics with interests close to my own. We would share a friendly chat in the tea room and a joke or two about our shared recent discovery of running (jogging!) and how it was helping us get somewhat more into shape. I could tell Tim was a likeable and sociable man for myself, but it was really through others that I began to realise just how far reaching Tim's positive influence was: he was a mentor and even friend to countless undergraduates who raved about his teaching style, his lectures legendarily full of demonstrations and the admission that learning physics isn't always easy (or the admission even that lecturers had to learn things at all!). Tim was also a respected boss and colleague. A few of my good friends down the pub have passed through his research group at one time or another and give happy accounts of their time in 'Tim's lab'.

In my first post doc in Australia I got as far as offering to run experiments for Tim and we were discussing our preparations to get the samples shipped over and ready for action; but that was the last time I ever spoke to him.

While I was in Australia, Tim was diagnosed with cancer. Wishing to turn his illness into a positive message to help others, Tim along with his friends and colleagues set up a charity, Inspiration for Life. The rest of the story has been put in to words much better elsewhere, (on the Inspiration for Life website and blog, for example) so I will not attempt to do so in very much detail. Above all this, Tim began keeping a diary after his diagnosis in order to share his experiences, fears and hopes with others, before he sadly died on 5th February 2013, aged 48. His diary will soon be available through Inspiration for Life.

The charity decided that a fitting tribute to Tim would be to host an annual event in the form of a 24 Hour Lecture-a-thon, called the 24 Hour Inspire. The first event took place in 2013, and the second will take place this week (at the time of writing): from 5pm on Thursday 27th March to 5pm on Friday 28th March 2014. This exciting event sees speakers from across the University of Sheffield and beyond tackle a wide range of topics as diverse as poetry, music, physics, sperm, robots; perhaps more accurately, life, the universe and everything. The event will raise money for the Sheffield-based Weston Park Cancer Charity and Impact (

I am excited about the event, not least because I am privileged to be able to play a small part in this amazing effort. I have volunteered to play some music at various times, not to mention contributing delicious items for the bake sale that will also take place throughout! I would encourage anyone in the Sheffield area (or further afield) who would be interested in taking in some lectures, some music, all whilst helping raise money for a very good cause. The event is taking place in Firth Hall at the University of Sheffield and starts at 5pm on Thursday 27th March. Admission will be £1 for one lecture or £5 for all you can take!

For more information about Inspiration for Life, or to donate to support their work:

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