b.4 July 1932 d.19 November 2005
RD MB BS London(1956) DObst(1958) MRCP(1964) FRCP(1980)
Peter Capps was a busy general paediatrician who served the children of Shropshire and mid Wales. He was born in London and grew up a short distance from the present College. His father, Frederick Cecil Wray Capps, was an ENT surgeon and his grandfather had been a fleet surgeon in the Royal Navy.
Peter studied classics at school and remained proud of being able to cite the appropriate Greek or Latin. He enrolled at medical school at St Mary’s in 1950 and qualified in 1956. After house jobs, he applied for a short service commission in the Royal Navy so as to ensure a sea-going posting. He joined a survey vessel in the South Pacific where he found that, in Fiji, the last Royal Navy survey ship had had his paternal grandfather as the ship’s surgeon. His only notable surgery whilst on board was on the ship’s cat, which had swallowed a fish hook. History does not record the outcome.
On return to dry land Peter carried out paediatric posts at Great Ormond Street and Ibadan, Nigeria, followed by further posts in general medicine which merely served to confirm that his future career should be in paediatrics. He worked as a paediatric registrar at St Mary’s, which included one year as an exchange registrar at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. There followed senior registrar training at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, during which time he was also assistant clinical tutor in paediatrics at the University of Birmingham.
At the time of his appointment to the Shrewsbury hospitals, Peter was one of two consultant paediatricians serving the young people in a population of 400,000 in Shropshire and north Powys. By the time he retired there were five consultants. He was instrumental in the creation of a new paediatric unit and in the appointment of dedicated neonatal paediatricians.
Peter’s interests outside medicine were wide ranging. He and his wife Daphne née James (whom he had met when they were both working at Birmingham Children’s Hospital) kept an excellent garden which they opened each summer to raise money for church and other charities. They kept a good table and Peter was inordinately proud of his cellar, which was spacious enough to accommodate colleagues’ cases of wines. He collected early Coalport porcelain and it was known that after outpatient clinics in Ludlow he was to be found browsing the local antique shops. He maintained his connection with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Liverpool division until 1984. He was chairman of the Shropshire group of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens from 1995 to 1997.
Peter was survived by his wife and by his elder son, Martin. His younger son, Matthew, died ten years earlier.
T E T West
(Volume XII, page web)
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