He was brought up in Minehead in Somerset where his parents ran a small hotel. He attended Minehead Comprehensive school. While still at school, he met a boy and fell in love, and the relationship lasted, on and off, for ten years. He went to Keele University and took a four-year degree in international relations. He then joined the fast-track graduate trainee management schemes of Rank Xerox and Thorn EMI.
In order to have a break and to work out what he wanted from life he considered going round the world, but got as far as Amsterdam, and lived there for two years. He looked after the barge belonging to a gay Catholic priest who was a chaplain in the Dutch navy. He lived rent-free on the barge and could survive on part-time work as a barman, DJ, and model.
While in Amsterdam he was extending his reading, largely in the central library. It was here that he read early warnings in American and Canadian magazines such as The Advocate and Body Politic of what was known as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). He helped the Dutch STD Foundation understand the meaning of the first safer-sex leaflets coming from the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York so that they could be properly translated into Dutch.
In 1983, Mike Rhodes from the London Gay Switchboard, organised a public meeting in London with Mel Rosen from New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis, and from this the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) was founded. It was named after Terry Higgins, an itinerant rent boy and drug dealer who had collapsed into a coma on the dance floor of Heaven in 1981. Leading figures in the organisation included Tony Whitehead and Professor Michael Adler.
Nick Partridge moved back to London in 1984 and became a volunteer for the London Gay Switchboard which was taking a lead in providing information about the new disease to gay men. In 1985 he answered the THT's advertisement for Britain's first specifically created AIDS-related job. On 11th. August 1985 he began as office manager. He was also writing articles on HIV/AIDS and safer-sex for gay publications. He later became the Chief executive of The Terrence Higgins Trust.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 1999 he was awarded the OBE "for services to people affected by HIV and AIDS". In 2000 the THT merged with London Lighthouse.