The entry in Debrett’s Peerage which styles her “ The Rt Hon the Rev’d Baroness Richardson of Calow OBE gives perhaps, a snapshot of Baroness Richardson’s illustrious career.
One of Baroness Richardson’s recent Questions to the House of Lords (Schools: Admission Policies – Question 22nd July 2013):
“Is the Minister aware that not all schools of religious character select on faith grounds? The Methodist Church has 65 primary schools that are state funded and 17 independent schools, none of which select according to the faith of the parents, although all are organised on Christian principles, but they are offered to society for the good of society as a whole,’’ indicates that education and inter-faith relations are among Baroness Richardson’s focal interests.
Kathleen Margaret Fountain was born on 24th February 1938. She attended Calow Primary School in Derbyshire and then went to St. Helena School, Chesterfield. She gained her Teacher’s Certificate at Stockwell College and went on to study Theology at Wesley House College, Cambridge.
In 1964 she married Ian D. G. Richardson and they have three daughters, Kathryn, Claire and Anne. Kathleen Richardson began her career as a teacher in 1958 at Hollingwood Secondary School, Chesterfield . From 1961 to 1977 she worked within the Methodist Church as a Deaconess and Lay Worker before being ordained into the Methodist ministry in 1980 and thereafter working as a Methodist minister in Denby Dale and Clayton West Circuit. In 1987 she became Chairman of the West Yorkshire District of the Methodist Church.
The Reverend Kathleen Richardson achieved two ‘firsts’ for a woman;
1992 she was President of The Methodist Conference
1995 she was Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council and President of Churches Together in England
Subsequent appointments include chairing the London Ecumenical Aids Trust, serving as Vice President of the Council for Christians and Jews, being a panel member on the Robert Hamill Inquiry into the murder of a Northern Ireland Catholic man and between 2000 and 2006 Moderator of the Churches’ Commission for Inter- faith Relations.
In 1996 Reverend Richardson was honoured with an OBE for services to the ecumenical movement and then in 1998 was created a life peer in the Queen’s Birthday Honours lists and became Baroness Richardson of Calow (cross bencher). At this point Baroness Richardson was granted early retirement from the Methodist Church in order to spend more time in the House.
Baroness Richardson has visited the Holy Land on numerous occasions, one of which was as part of a delegation from the British Council of Churches to look at the effects of the first Intifada. In addition to her responsibilities as a peer, she is Chair of the Churches’ Information for Mission.
In 2010 Baroness Richardson re-visited her Primary School in Calow. She talked with pupils and was questioned by the pupils’ School Council about her work in the House of Lords. Baroness Richardson’s portrait by Don McCullin (2006) hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
* Debrett’s states that for recreation, Baroness Richardson enjoys reading and needlework. (However does she find the time!)
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Written by the Minister & Members