Lives of the fellows

William Leonard Botting Leese

b.12 July 1919 d.27 September 1996
BM BCh Oxon(1943) MA(1945) MRCP(1952) MFOM(1978) FRCP(1979)

William Leonard Botting Leese established a first class occupational medical service for Mobil Oil and made a significant contribution to the establishment of health care systems for personnel working in the offshore industry in the North Sea.

He was born in London, the son of Leonard Ernest Selwyn Leese, an insurance official and Elizabeth Botting. He was educated at Dulwich College and went on to St John’s College, Oxford. He continued his medical studies at the Radcliffe Infirmary and graduated in 1943.

He held junior medical posts in various hospitals in Oxford and then moved to London where he was senior medical registrar at the Central Middlesex and the Middlesex Hospitals. He held these posts until 1957. By that time he had developed a keen interest in occupational medicine and in the same year he was appointed as a medical adviser to Mobil Oil. His time at Mobil saw the rapid expansion and development of the oil industry in the extreme conditions of the North Sea. William Leese, in addition to his duties at his parent company, provided competent, quiet, modest and wise counsel and became an excellent liaison officer for the industry, working with both academic and government departments. He was highly respected as a competent and knowledgeable physician with a thorough grasp of the problems which were faced.

He served as chairman of the medical subcommittee of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association, as the medical representative on the council of the Institute of Petroleum and he was an early member of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians.

He was also involved in academic matters and was welcomed into the Institute of Environmental and Offshore Medicine of the University of Aberdeen and later into the Centre for Offshore Health of the Robert Gordon University. He also made a significant contribution to the creation of training courses for those working in remote places. This interest led him to support the development of a medical system for the British Antarctic Survey within both the University of Aberdeen and the Robert Gordon University. He remained actively involved in this area almost until his death.

William Leese was an immensely likeable character but a private and quiet person. His judgement on professional matters and on individuals was sound and his opinions were widely sought. In 1955 he married Eileen Margaret, the daughter of William Spence, a chemist, and herself a physician. They had two children both of whom are doctors. William Leese died peacefully of widespread malignant disease of uncertain origin.

J Nelson Norman

(Volume X, page 297)

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