Richard Tolson

Richard Tolson4 Sep 2013

Barnsley College staff started their new academic year with the sad news that their Head of Music and Performing Arts, Richard Tolson, died this week.

Richard – known as Rich T - was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in February.

He has worked at the College for 18 years working his way up to being Head of Area in the Faculty of Arts, Media and Entertainment (FAME) and was winner of the Principal's Staff Award at the Barnsley College Excellence Awards this year.

Director of FAME, Josie Whiteley, said: “We were all shocked when we discovered Rich was so ill. He has been in College working through much of his illness and it has been a real privilege to work alongside him.

“His friends and colleagues at College - and all FAME’s students - will miss him terribly. He has been an inspiration to staff and students over the years and has had a really positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young musicians and performers from Barnsley and the surrounding area.”

Richard was born in Barnsley and attended Holgate School as a teenager. He met his wife Sarah when they were both students at Barnsley College’s Electric Theatre in 1990 where they studied A Levels and Performing Arts.

They both went to study for their degrees in Popular Music Studies at Bretton Hall which they completed in 1995 and they were married at St Edward’s Church, Kingstone, in 1999.

Richard toured Europe working with show bands and he was a keen musician. He was a Director of Penistone FM, was involved with the football team his son plays for – Kexborough Chiefs - and his interests included photography, Polo and following Sheffield Steelers.

Rich has done a lot of charity work over the years raising thousands of pounds – including a bike ride from Southport to Hornsea and the creation of a number of charity music videos featuring students and staff from the College.

Rich reached his 40th birthday at the end of August and leaves Sarah, his son Ellis aged 12, daughter Lauryna aged nine and 22-year-old Lynsey who was looked after by Rich and Sarah and has been part of the family for the last seven years.

The funeral will be held on Tuesday 10 September and the cortege will pass Barnsley College at approximately 2.10pm and pause briefly near the College’s newly-opened Electric Theatre which Richard played a key role in creating.

Josie added: “All Richard’s friends and colleagues at College send their heartfelt condolences to Sarah and to Richard’s family. Rich T was one of the kindest and most loyal people you could ever hope to meet and Barnsley College will not be the same without him in it.”

The funeral service will take place at 2.30pm at St Edward’s Church, Kingstone, followed by Committal at Barnsley Crematorium, Ardsley.

Richard’s family have asked for family flowers only with donations to Barnsley Hospice.

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