'He spread joy': Tributes to sports-mad UEA lecturer after sudden death

Richard Deswarte University of East Anglia in Norwich

Richard Deswarte, who passed away, aged 56. - Credit: Supplied

A 56-year-old lecturer at the University of East Anglia in Norwich has died.

Richard Deswarte, a lecturer in European history, passed away suddenly.

Mr Deswarte was born in Canada and had been working at the university for the past 20 years.

Dr Matthias Neumann, head of the school of history, said: "On Saturday, July 17, family, friends, colleagues and students were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and untimely passing of a man who spread joy wherever he went.

"For two decades, his warm Canadian voice could be heard in the UEA’s lecture theatres, classrooms and offices. In the days since Richard’s death, hundreds have taken to social media to share their memories of an exceptionally popular, dedicated, and inspirational teacher.

“Richard was a historian of modern European history and an enthusiastic scholar of digital history. An incredibly generous, smart and passionate teacher, he was universally admired and loved by his students and colleagues, for whom he always went the extra mile.

"He had a unique talent to inspire his students, instilling the confidence to pursue their dreams. Richard touched so many lives during his time at UEA and his early death will leave a huge gap in our community. He was the epitome of kindness, collegiality and dedication. Richard personified UEA at its very best.”

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Mr Deswarte was a passionate sportsman. Having grown up in an ice hockey-mad environment, upon arrival in Norwich he embraced football and became a regular at Carrow Road.

Dr Neumann continued: "Yet, Richard had far too much energy to be content with the role of spectator. His idea of the perfect UEA lunchbreak was an exhausting session of circuit training. He ran the ‘Oak Tree Circuits’ group jointly with Jan Kaiser, professor of Biogeochemistry and was a valued member of ‘Ange’s Wednesday Posse’ running group.

"Richard and others persisted through lockdowns, heatwaves, rain and snow. On Saturday, July 24, Oak Tree Circuits, Wednesday Posse and friends will be running the Eaton parkrun in Richard’s memory.

“We are planning to wear an orange t-shirt like Rich during his Amsterdam marathon with a picture of him pinned to the front or back.”

The University of East Anglia is renowned around the world for it's prestigious MA in creative writi

The University of East Anglia is renowned around the world for it's prestigious MA in creative writing. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The UEA will also celebrate Mr Deswarte's life at an open-air memorial event on Monday, July 26, at 5pm, live streamed for those unable to attend.

A donation page has been opened for those who would like to contribute to Mr Deswarte's favourite charity, the British Red Cross. Click here