Lives of the fellows

Charles Plowright Petch

b.2 September 1909 d.8 December 1987
MRCS LRCP(1939) MB BChir Cantab(1939) MRCP(1940) MD(1948) FRCP(1966)

Charles Plowright Petch was born and died in Norfolk. His father was a director of a research institute and his mother, Edith Mary Plowright, was the daughter of a surgeon. He was educated at Gresham’s school and St John’s College, Cambridge, gaining a scholarship at both. He gained first class honours in the natural sciences tripos. After teaching for a few years at Stowe school, he decided to take up medicine. So he returned to his old college, qualifying from St Thomas’s Hospital in 1939. He gained his membership of the College in 1940 and was elected a Fellow in 1966.

During the second world war he was a medical specialist in the RAF, and in 1948 he was appointed physician to the St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey, retiring in 1975.

Petch was a reticent and punctilious man, activated by a strong sense of duty and common sense, little affected by the vagaries of fashion. These qualities made him a valuable, stable influence in his newly emerging hospital, especially in the early days of the NHS.

Outside medicine his great interest was the countryside of Norfolk, and especially its flora. Together with E L Swann, he wrote the Flora of Norfolk, Norwich, Jarrold & Son, 1968, and served for three years on the council of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

While at St Thomas’s he met and married a nurse, Margaret Stirling, the daughter of a solicitor, and they had two sons, the elder becoming a cardiologist at Cambridge.

J Bishop Harman

[Brit.med.J., 1988,296,141]

(Volume VIII, page 376)

<< Back to List