Richard Bennett’s assessments were used by the charity Freedom from Torture to campaign for torturers to be brought to justice. Photograph: Angela Burnett/Freedom from Torture
My good friend and colleague Richard Bennett was a passionate common practitioner concerned with the welfare of the most vulnerable and marginalised folks in society, in particular victims of torture. He has taken his personal existence at the age of 56, getting suffered for some time from significant depression.
In 2007, following retiring from standard practice, he became a volunteer medical professional in London with Freedom from Torture (FFT), which cares for victims and campaigns on their behalf. Initially he assessed the overall health wants of survivors, such as these in detention, then moved on to documenting bodily and psychological evidence of torture for medico-legal reviews that supported claims for asylum. His reviews were also utilized by the charity to campaign for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, most just lately in Sri Lanka and Iran. Richard was hugely valued and respected at FFT and is remembered as a guiding force who was also approachable and supportive.
From 1996, he was a GP in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in which he was really well-known with his patients. As a trainer, he inspired a generation of registrars. He went on to be a prison visitor at Highpoint jail, Stradishall, and worked with the Refugee Council in Ipswich, helping asylum seekers.
Soon after he left general practice, a brief shopping trip would often be extended as former sufferers stopped him in the street for a chat.
A guy of broad intellect, he was born in Liverpool, went to school in Sevenoaks and Devizes, took an English degree at Southampton University, and then studied medicine in Sheffield. He loved studying and poetry, especially Wilfred Owen and other war poets, and wrote poems himself. He ran with Felixstowe Road Runners for 17 years and, as a frustrated rock star, enjoyed enjoying the guitar.
Richard will be remembered for his kindness, generosity and warmth of spirit, and as a compassionate doctor who manufactured an massive distinction.
He is survived by his wife, Annabel, and their two daughters, Holly and Rosie.