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Richard Pearce

Obituary for The Guardian Newspaper online here:

Inspirational psychotherapist, previously a farmer, and also a  development economist at the UN,
Universities of Reading and London.

My friend Richard Pearce, who has died aged 76, had a rich and extraordinary life encompassing three vocations: farmer, then development economist, and in his last 20 years, he transformed into a psychotherapist, the profession he most cherished.

His psychotherapy practice in Bath was called the Quiet Space. The choice of this name was in his own words to “highlight the place within us we often seek to find, and which, through the turbulence and sometimes anguish of living our lives we lose or fail to discover.” His services were in great demand. Alongside this, he was active within the Society of Existential Analysis, writing numerous papers, especially on the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre on psychotherapy.

Richard was born in Barrow Gurney, Bristol, the son of farmers, Walter Pearce, and his wife, Margaret (nee Jesty). After leaving Bristol Cathedral School, he worked for 10 years on the family dairy farm, and then studied agricultural economics at Reading University, graduating with a first in 1971. He followed this with a master’s in development economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, in 1974, and then began his academic career in development economics with lecturing positions at the University of Reading and at Wye College (University of London). Here, he was pioneering in the early 1990s in creating an internet distance learning course in agriculture and rural development. In 1991 he went to Rome to work at the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, as a development economist working on trade, agricultural commodities and developing countries.

In 1994, when his daughter was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf, the family returned to the UK. At this point, Richard, now becoming disillusioned with his role as a development economist and wanting to make a difference to individual lives, embarked on training as a counsellor.

He qualified at Canterbury College, Kent, and then in 2004, started working full time as a student counsellor at the University of Bristol.

In 2008 he went further and trained in psychotherapy at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, University of Sheffield, and then opened his practice in Bath. It thrived, and Richard felt he had found his true vocation.
Richard was an active member of the Labour party. He was great company and was well read on a huge range of subjects, especially philosophy, politics, religion, fiction and history. He loved music and had eclectic tastes – from Bob Dylan to Miles Davis.

He continued at his psychotherapy practice until May 2019, when he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer.

Richard married Usha (Letchumanan) in 1988. He is survived by Usha and their children, Maya and Kiran, and his two sisters, Diana and Vivienne.

Kevin Parris (formally of Reading University, FAO and OECD)

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