A tribute to Thomas Kennedy

Thomas Kennedy

College members and staff were united in grief this month after the tragic death of one of RCPsych’s longest-serving members of staff.

Thomas Kennedy, who joined the College in 1998 and served in a variety of roles, from receptionist to communications manager, died at home on 14 February, aged 50.

Thomas worked with the College for 25 years in total – and for the last 18 months has been Co-Chair of the Sexuality, Gender Equality and Inclusion Forum (SGEI).

He was very passionate about the work he did, both around patient care and equality, diversity and inclusion, and it was fitting that his last contribution was to help the College be recognised by Stonewall as one of the country’s leading employers of LGBTQ+ people.

Just seven days ago, the College was ranked the 90th top UK employer for creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace and, as a result, received a Stonewall Gold Award.

This week members and staff paid tribute to the incredible contribution Thomas has made to the College, with dozens of colleagues writing personal tributes.

Thomas Kennedy

Our President, Dr Adrian James, said:

“I have worked with Thomas throughout my 25 years of having a role with the College, and he was often the first person members would meet when they came to the College.

“He did so much to nurture the links the College has with people with lived experience. Thomas will be greatly missed.”

Paul Rees, RCPsych Chief Executive, said:

“All of us who knew Thomas and worked alongside him will have their own memories of him.

“Mine are of talking to him about his plans for forthcoming Presidential Lectures – which he helped to run for the College – his fantastic sense of humour, and our many conversations with him in his role as the Co-Chair of the Sexuality, Gender Equality and Inclusion (SGEI) Forum.

“Given his passionate belief in creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive environment, it was fitting that the day after we learned of the sad news of his passing away, we were officially named in the top 100 employers in the UK for creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive environment, and won a Stonewall Gold Award.

“I am really pleased Thomas had already learned about our achievement in securing the Stonewall Gold Award by the time he sadly passed away. He was, as you would expect, delighted.”

Thomas Kennedy

Head of Quality and Research Development with the College’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) Clare Taylor was his co-chair on the SGEI.

She said:

“Although I have been at the College for almost as long as Thomas, I only really got to know him properly in the last few years when he joined the Sexuality and Gender Equality and Inclusion Forum, and then later became co-chair with me.

“I regret not knowing Thomas for longer because he really enriched my life with his seemingly endless store of often hilarious anecdotes about northern soap stars and other minor celebrities, and with his thoughtfulness and kindness.

“I will miss Thomas enormously, and my heart goes out to his sister and to his beloved dogs Tilly and Barbara, and to all those who loved and cherished him.”

Dr Jim Bolton worked with Thomas from the time he joined the Public Education Committee as a junior doctor to recent times when Jim was chair of the committee. He said:

“I first met Thomas when I was co-opted to the Public Education Committee as a trainee representative, and continued to work with him until his death.

“The College's communications and press strategy used to be managed by only three people, of whom Thomas was one. Despite the amount and range of work, Thomas never tackled a task without full commitment. I always knew that if I was involved with an event or a meeting that Thomas was organising, it would run like clockwork.

“One of the most daunting events that Thomas ran for 25 years was the College’s annual debate for young people. I can only imagine how much work went into gathering together several hundred young and often excitable people in one place.

“I am sure that it was an organisational nightmare, but Thomas always pulled it off. Such was the popularity of the debates that they were often over-subscribed several times over.

"Few staff will have served the College for so long and with such dedication and professionalism as Thomas. I will miss him, but will remember him fondly.“

For the last five years Thomas worked in the Digital team within the Strategic Communications department.

His manager Peter Markham, the Head of Digital, said:

“Thomas was an amazing member of the Digital team who was incredibly dedicated to the College and mental health care.

“We will miss him hugely in the team and department and I will miss him personally, for his caring nature, sense of humour and near unbelievable stories. The team, the department and the organisation will miss him terribly.”

Thomas Kennedy

Thomas’ roles at RCPsych

  • 1998: Worked as a receptionist.
  • 1999: Became Helpline/Information Administrator.
  • 2000: Became Information Services Administrator.
  • 2002: Became External Affairs Administrator.
  • 2007: Became External Affairs Committee Manager.
  • 2008: Became Communications Manager (Patients).
  • 2009: Became Communications Manager (Public Engagement)
  • 2016: Became Public Information and Engagement Manager.
Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry