Lives of the fellows

Peter Charles Hutchinson Newbold

b.23 June 1938 d.28 March 1996
MA BM BCh Oxon(1963) LMSSA(1963) MRCP(1967) DM(1974) FRCP(1984)

There were two strands to Peter Newbold’s life - professionally he practised as a physician in Worcester, aesthetically he was a connoisseur of music, words and the fine arts. He was born in Manchester and had the benefit of a classical education at King William’s College, Isle of Man. He went on to study medicine at New College, Oxford, and Guy’s Hospital Medical School, London. After junior training posts at Guy’s, Hammersmith, Queen Square and the Middlesex Hospitals he spent two years at the Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California. This was followed by another two years at Cambridge as Elmore research fellow. In 1974 he was awarded the DM for his thesis on skin cancers. A year earlier he was appointed as a consultant dermatologist to the Worcester Royal Infirmary. There he built up a busy dermatological service which, without the help of junior staff, made heavy demands on his time and health. In keeping with his deeply held Christian principles, he voluntarily extended his care to those patients suffering from terminal illness.

He continued to keep a base in London, where he had a wide circle of friends who shared his love of opera, fine arts and travel. A bachelor and a generous host, he entertained his friends in elegant surroundings with good food and wine, and to conversation which could range from obscure 18th century operas to contemporary musicals, from 15th century stained glass manufacture to the glories of Wren’s city churches, and from princelings listed in the Almanac de Gotha to detailed accounts of meals taken in Michelin starred restaurants. He also had a sharp eye for the absurdities of everyday life and would entertain his guests by reading out snippets from newspapers, or by showing classic films featuring actors such as Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy.

An indefatigable traveller and speaking fluent French, German, Italian, Portugese and Spanish, he would think nothing of flying to San Francisco for a few days to hear Dame Joan Sutherland open in a new production at the Opera House, or spend a weekend in Erfurt in Germany, photographing 16th century stained glass windows in the church where Luther had preached.

Patrician in appearance, he set himself the highest standards and expected high standards from others.

Both his legs were broken some years ago in a road traffic accident. Since then he suffered recurrent infections which gradually undermined his health and forced him to retire from his work at the early age of 56. By then he also knew he was suffering from an untreatable form of leukaemia, but he allowed neither pain nor haemorrhages to change his cultured deportment nor his concern for his many friends. He continued to travel extensively until the time of his death.

R F Mahler

[The Times, 26 Apr 1996; Brit.med.J., 1996,312, 1416]

(Volume X, page 364)

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