Lives of the fellows

Geoffrey David Pegrum

b.16 February 1931 d.25 December 1980
MRCS LRCP(1955) MB BS Lond(1955) MRCP(1961) MRCPath(1963) MD(1965) FRCPath(1978) FRCP(1978)

Geoffrey Pegrum was born in Surrey and educated at Raynes Park County Grammar School. His father, Ronald Frederick, was a retailer. Geoffrey qualified at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School where he met and married his fellow student Doreen Rothman. There followed house posts and then service in the RAF, where he began his training as a pathologist. After leaving the services he returned to Charing Cross Hospital, holding various posts in the pathology department, and attaining the MRCP in 1961. The same year he was appointed senior lecturer and honorary consultant in haematology.

During the next decade he contributed much to the expansion of his chosen specialty, haematology. Latterly during this period he was heavily involved in the planning of the department of haematology for the new hospital, which was to open in 1973, at which time he was appointed reader. Throughout these years he took an active part in many aspects of the life of the hospital and the medical school, playing hockey, rugby, squash and tennis. He was a man of enthusiasm and energy who endeared himself to the students as a sympathetic and energetic teacher.

The period between 1973-1978 was a time of hectic activity, organizing the clinical and research work of the greatly expanded department. He established a loyal and happy group of clinical and laboratory researchers with many interests but with special expertise in chromosome studies and tissue typing. He published extensively and presented many papers at national and international meetings. Although an energetic research worker, he never allowed himself to be cloistered in the laboratory, but was in his element working and teaching at the bedside. Geoffrey worked equally hard in many administrative roles; perhaps the most taxing and vital for the smooth running of the new hospital was that of medical representative on the first District management team.

A founder member of the Royal College of Pathologists, he was elected to the fellowship of that College and of the Royal College of Physicians in 1978.

That year proved to be the pinnacle of his career, as he was then appointed to the chair of haematology at Westminster Hospital. Tragically at this time of great achievement malignant disease was detected, which was to cause his death. Geoffrey decided not to move to the post at Westminster but chose to stay at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, and was appointed to take charge of the department of haematology with the title of professor. Over the next two years his true emotional strength and courage shone out as an example to all those who knew him. With the loving support of his wife and children he determined to fight the disease and continue an active professional life, even at times directing his clinical and research work from his hospital bed. Steadily the illness eroded his health, but not his determination to live his life at full strength - ‘the only way I know how’. Eventually he died on Christmas Day 1980, lovingly cared for by his wife Doreen, his daughter Helen and son Anthony.

RA Parkins

[Brit.med.J., 1981, 282, 158; Lancet, 1981, 1, 287]

(Volume VII, page 454)

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