Lives of the fellows

Richard Bertram Coles

b.27 March 1919 d.29 December 1999
OBE MRCS LRCP(1943) MB BS Lond(1946) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1970)

Richard Bertram Coles was a consultant dermatologist in Northampton. He was born in Workington, in the old county of Cumberland, the son of Alfred Bertram Coles, a grammar school headmaster, and Janet Elizabeth née Stevens, the daughter of a surveyor. He was educated at Workington Grammar, but his schooling was restricted by severe asthma and he contracted tuberculosis when he started medical school in London. He trained partly in Glasgow under a wartime evacuation scheme, qualifying MRCS LRCP in 1943.

After he qualified, he volunteered for the Army and served as a captain in the 23rd Scottish field hospital in Germany. He was mentioned in despatches in March 1945.

From 1947 to 1948 he was first assistant in the skin department at King’s College Hospital. A year later, he was appointed as a consultant dermatologist at Northampton General Hospital, a post he held until his retirement in 1979. At Northampton he was solely responsible for the dermatology service in the county, until he was able to train general practitioner assistants. He was interested in the psychological and emotional consequences of skin disease, and set up group therapy sessions, initially for patients with eczema and later for those with psoriasis. This led to the formation of the Psoriasis Association, of which he was the first chairman.

He wrote many papers on dermatology and co-wrote Skin diseases for beginners (London, H K Lewis & Co Ltd, 1957).

Outside medicine, music was his main interest. He played cello, horn, trombone and the recorder, set up a wind band and then a brass band. He was active in the Society of Recorder Players.

He married Monica Penrose née Williams in 1964 and they had three daughters and a son.

RCP editor

[Brit.med.J.,2000, 320, 449]

(Volume XII, page web)

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