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.”

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.”