Tributes to well-respected and much-loved Professor Richardson

Release Date: 23/02/2018

Tributes to well-respected and much-loved Professor Richardson

A leading Professor has been remembered as a “loyal friend” with an “irrepressible passion for his patients and profession” by friends and colleagues, following his untimely death.

Professor James Richardson – known affectionately to many as ‘Prof’ – passed away over the weekend while on holiday with his family.

A Professor of Orthopaedics at Keele University and Director of the Institute of Orthopaedics, Professor Richardson had a long and illustrious career, which was recognised at the Trust’s awards ceremony in November where he was presented with the Chief Executive’s Award for Inspirational Leadership.

The award celebrated the decision by NICE to approve a procedure called ACI for use at RJAH after 20 years of trials at RJAH and other NHS sites. The Professor had been at the forefront of this work throughout.

Professor Richardson became Professor of Orthopaedics at RJAH in October 1994 at the tender age of 38, and prior to that he was appointed to the Senior Registrar Training Programme for three years.

He qualified in Medicine in 1977 and went on to undertake research into fracture healing and biomechanics at Oxford, where he completed an MD thesis.

During his career Professor Richardson worked in his native Inverness, then Nepal, India, Malawi, Glasgow, Oxford and before his appointment at RJAH, he was a Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant at Leicester University.

Janet Morris, who worked as Professor Richardson’s Secretary for almost 25 years, described him as a “genuine, caring, honest and compassionate man”.

She said: “Prof touched the lives of many and treated everyone equally with such integrity and humility.

“He was a true gentleman. Regardless of how busy he was, he always had time for people, even if it meant he may be late for a scheduled appointment. As many will know, time management was not his strongpoint!

She added: “It was a total honour and a privilege to work for Prof. It has been quite a journey, which has come to an end much too soon, but I am so grateful that I was able to have shared the journey with him.

“He was extremely supportive not just with regard to work but also personally. I will miss him greatly but have many great memories.”

Mr Andrew Roberts, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and long-time friend of Professor Richardson, said: “I’d known James for more than 30 years and during that time, he had always been a kind and supportive friend to me but also to my family.

“He had the ability to talk to absolutely anyone. He was good at communicating with people.

“In terms of him as a Surgeon, he would never give up on his patients, he would treat people when others said they couldn’t. He wasn’t shy of tackling the difficult and there are people still mobile, who would’ve been immobile if it wasn’t for James. He wanted the absolute best for his patients.”

Professor Sally Roberts, Director of Spinal Research and friend of Professor Richardson, said: “Prof Richardson was a gentle giant of a man, with endless energy, enthusiasm and ideas.

“One could always expect the unexpected when working or travelling with him – never a dull moment but he was always kindness itself and looked for ways to improve everything and offering to help anyone with anything.

“In the orthopaedic and research field he has been a real star and there are clinicians and scientists from all over the world sending in their condolences and thoughts for his family and friends.”

Susie Powell, who worked as Professor Richardson’s NHS Secretary, said: “I was very proud to work for a world class clinician and a leader in his field.  His phone was always on, at any time, in any country.  He was a whirlwind of ideas and practicality and kindness.

“It was like being Doctor Who’s assistant, as he turned back time on people’s hips and knees.

“Everyone at the hospital is devastated by his sudden departure on the holiday he so richly deserved. My thoughts go out to his family.”

Mr Pete Gallacher, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, said ACI winning approval to be funded by the NHS will be Professor Richardson’s “lasting legacy”.

He said; “James was a total inspiration, who was happy to push the boundaries in order to get the best possible outcomes for his patients but with that came great humility, if something wasn’t successful he’d take that on board.

“ACI getting NICE approval was probably his biggest professional achievement and a real testament to 20 years of hard work and research. ACI is James’ lasting legacy and I’m proud to be carrying that on.”

Dr Victor Pullicino, Consultant Radiologist and long-friend of Professor Richardson, said: “I’d known James since he was a trainee and from day one, it was evident that he was interested in more than the average trainee. He always asked why and what could we do better. He was a researcher through and through.

“James was always an optimist, despite what an X-Ray would say or what others would say about a patient, there was always something he could do, that was James but that was just one of his many strengths. He was unselfish, he could adapt to change and he was always ready to listen. James was a truly special man.”

Professor Stephen Eisenstein, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, said: “Professor Richardson was always friendly, always encouraging, always willing to share information, and possessed an indomitable spirit of optimism under the most adverse personal circumstances. The damage resulting from his untimely departure will not be easily repaired.” 

Mr Stephen White, Medical Director, said: “James and I first started working together in Oxford 30 years ago when he was completing his thesis on bone healing.

“Over the years we collaborated on some really interesting research, and he was always a source of encouragement and support. A great enthusiast for innovation, he would always try to help patients.

“He will be greatly missed by all.”

Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive, added: “The entire RJAH community has been left completely devastated by Professor Richardson’s tragic and untimely death.

“Professor Richardson’s vision was a huge influence on Orthopaedics, cell therapy and research. His dedication to his patients and passion about his profession was irrepressible, and on a personal level, he was gentle and kind and loved by all at RJAH for his unique character.

“Generations of RJAH staff, patients, colleagues, scientists and surgeons have lost a loyal friend, who enriched all our lives. We will miss him enormously.

“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Professor Richardson’s family at this difficult time.”

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