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Obituary: Mr John W T Richards

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death of Mr John Richards, on 30 June 2003.

Born in 1927, Mr Richards was employed as a technician at the University of Bristol when an evening class fired his interest in psychology. At the age of twenty-nine, he was awarded a State Scholarship to read Psychology and Philosophy at Bristol as a mature student. On graduation, he was appointed as a Demonstrator at the University of Liverpool, moving to Leeds two years later, in 1961, as temporary Lecturer in the Department of Psychology. His appointment was made permanent in the following year and he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1970.

Within the University and the region, John Richards devoted himself to the advancement of clinical psychology and to work with people with disabilities. An excellent and greatly respected teacher, he was instrumental in the establishment of the MSc programme in Clinical Psychology, organised jointly with the then Department of Psychiatry and, later, in the development of a course in community psychology which included provision for student placements in community work settings. In addition, Mr Richards took on a variety of administrative responsibilities within the Department, contributing much to its smooth running and to the support of students not least as Acting Head from 1977 to 1980. Over the years, he served on several faculty boards and on the Standing Committee on Masterships, and was an elected member of the Court from 1973 to 1975. For a time, Mr Richards also held the office of adviser to students with disabilities.

Externally, the numerous activities undertaken by Mr Richards included pioneering work with a number of others to set up residential homes for former patients in psychiatric hospitals. In 1972, he was a foundation member of Leeds Association for Mental Health, becoming Chairman in 1979. He served as honorary psychologist to a number of organisations working with young people with disabilities. At a personal level, John Richards had a great ability to work with clients and patients of all types to communicate on their level, to gain their confidence and to get the best out of them.

John Richards took early retirement from his University post in 1983 but, as Senior Fellow, continued to undertake some teaching within the Department for the next three years, whilst also continuing until 1984 as the adviser to students with disabilities. In his appreciation published in the University Review in 1983, Professor John Blundell wrote: John Richards will be remembered for his individual qualities and his personal contributions: a passionate proponent of humanistic psychology - opposed to all philosophies which appear to reduce the dignity of man, a teacher dedicated to the welfare of students, an active supporter of all aspects of departmental life - intellectual and social, joint founder of community psychology, a spokesman for the weak, disabled and oppressed.

The funeral has taken place.

Published: 21 July 2003