From Nicola Finney, an ex-student of Steve's at Staffordshire University

Dear Peter Beaney


I was a student of International Relations at Staffordshire University and that is where I met Stephen Riley, I would just like to say like to say Thank You to Stephen for the encouragement he gave, for the knowledge that he shared and the pure enjoyment that I gained from all of the courses that I took with him.


He was so informative, he would always offer advice gladly and he took the time. For me personally one of my fondest memories was that he attended the Graduation Ceremony at Trentham Gardens. I knew he was not there for me personally but he took the time to speak to my family to make me feel proud for the achievement I had made.


I will never forget that day because of him.


Thank you Stephen


Nicola Finney
Stoke on Trent

From Andrew Sherriff, former undergraduate of Steve’s at Staffs from 1990 – 1993

Dear Peter & Sam,


I recently returned from a year in Canada and was shocked and saddened to hear about Steve. I think it is a wonderful thing you have done with your web-page and a fitting tribute to Steve.


I first got to know Steve first as a lecturer on the Third World Politics second year module, then as my final year project tutor, and lecturer on two further final year modules. He was full of encouragement and always had time for his undergraduate students.


A visit to his office would always be followed by a “ah I have something for you, you should read this”, then Steve would continue talking while embarking on major hunt through the jungle of papers and books that made up his office to find the piece. When I left to pursue an M.A. in Ireland, Steve would continue to send me material, usually accompanied by scribbled notes. Steve I think had the most elegantly illegible writing I have ever encountered. When I started my Ph.D. and was given some M.A. lecturing which was quite a challenge, I turned to Steve for help. I frantically phoned him after a rather fraught encounter with a student who was an old NGO hand with years of African experience who wanted to know why I wasn’t familiar with large section of ‘very important’ authors. Steve of course knew them all, and gave me brief candidly amusing synopses of their works and arguments. As I reeled of the names of the works Steve would say, “no, you don’t have to worry about that”, “old Marxist of the boring school”, “yeah, but such in such is better”, “Christ, that’s going back a bit, he’s a pan-Africanist, but his major work was….”. Armed with this information I was well able to ‘deal’ with the student in my next class.


Steve also believed passionately in the importance of publication, especially of postgraduate work. When he came and visited me in Ireland he gave one of the most useful and interesting seminars I have ever attended on “How to get published - and why it is important”. Three years after the event people still ask me for the ‘notes’ from the seminar. I myself wouldn’t have had half the publications I do if it wasn’t for Steve’s gentle bullying about its importance, and helpful hints on how to approach it.


Steve was someone who you could always go to for advice, and it would invariable good and sensible advice at that. Whatever the academic or professional conundrum from theoretical arguments thorough to career choices, you always felt a lot better after discussing it with Steve. Of course, he didn’t pull his punches, but in a skill many in the profession could learn from, he didn’t just identify problems, but also proposed workable solutions.


I will miss Steve greatly. I remember his dry wit was the perfect foil for a damp dark winter’s day in Stoke-on-Trent. His good company and sage advice will always mean a lot to me.


Andrew SherriffBA(Hons) International Relations (1990 – 1993)