Lives of the fellows

Peter Kenneth Robinson

b.10 June 1920 d.25 May 2007
BA Cantab(1941) FRCS(1941) MRCS LRCP(1944) MB BChir(1945) MRCP(1945) MD(1956) FRCP(1965)

Peter Robinson was a consultant neurologist in the Wessex area. He was born in Northampton. His father, Frank, was director of a firm of shoe mercers (dealers) and travelled widely as manager of their export department. Peter’s mother, Edith Winifred née Adams, was from a family of master bakers and radical local politicians.

Peter attended Northampton Town and County Grammar School, and then gained a Henry Martin scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge. After obtaining a BA in 1941, he did his clinical training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He gained a primary FRCS in 1941 and then qualified both with the conjoint (MRCS LRCP) and MB BChir. He became a house physician to A E Gow [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.564] at St Bartholomew’s Hospital (from 1944 to 1945) and was then a medical officer at Luton Blood Supply Depot.

In 1945 Peter gained his MRCP and in the same year married Barbara Grant née Bull, a doctor and the daughter of Arthur Gilbert Bull, who was a general practitioner in Northampton. Peter and Barbara had three daughters, Diana, Sue and Louise.

Peter was a registrar to Sir Henry Cohen [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.106] in 1945 and undertook military service from 1946 to 1948 as a captain in the RAMC. He commenced his neurological training at this time, serving at the Military Hospital for Head Injuries at Wheatley. In September 1948 he was appointed as a supernumerary registrar and later as a clinical assistant to E A Carmichael [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.91] at the National Hospital Queen Square. In 1950 he was awarded a Nuffield Foundation fellowship as a resident in neurology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He returned to Queen Square, where he was successively a house physician, a resident medical officer and later a registrar to outpatients from 1951 to 1956. During this time (1953 to 1956) he was also a clinical assistant at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. In 1956 he was awarded his MD and joined Stanley Graveson [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.224] as the second consultant neurologist to the Wessex Regional Hospital Board. They worked throughout the region and together were the nucleus of the Wessex Neurological Centre, where all neuroscience disciplines were concentrated in Southampton in 1965. The workload was prodigious and Peter was respected for his clinical opinion and willingness to help. He was interested in all the people he encountered – patients, colleagues and those he taught.

Peter was active in the Association of British Neurologists, as assistant secretary, secretary and president (1983 to 1984). He was a council member and secretary (1967) of the neurological section of the Royal Society of Medicine. At the Royal College of Physicians, he was a member of the committee on neurology (1977 to 1981) and secretary of the neurology specialist advisory committee (1981). He was foundation secretary (1974 to 1977) of the Joint Committee of Neurosciences and remained a member until 1981. He was president of the Wessex Physicians Club (1980 to 1982) and an honorary member of the Belgian and Spanish Neurological Societies. In 1983 he published a 50th anniversary history of the Association of British Neurologists.

Peter’s many other publications included ‘Hallucinations of remembered scenes as an epileptic aura’ (Brain 1947 Dec;70[Pt 4]:440-8), ‘Associated movements between limb and respiratory muscle as a sequel to brachial plexus birth injury’ (Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp. 1951 Jul;89[1]:21-9) and ‘Paget’s disease of the skull and secondary basilar impression’ (Brain. 1959 Mar;82[1]:10-22). He also contributed to Biochemical aspects of neurological disorders, edited by John N Cumings and Michael Kremer (Oxford, Blackwell Scientific, 1959-1968).

Outside medicine, Peter was an accomplished ornithologist and artist. He and Barbara enjoyed travelling, walking and gardening together. His meticulous skill as an artist was developed when, as a clinical student, he drew neurosurgical procedures for John O’Connell, and in later life he concentrated on watercolour. He had longstanding links with his parish church at Compton, and after retirement served as a sidesman and guide at Winchester Cathedral. He was particularly interested in the various doctors commemorated in the cathedral and recorded their lives. He died from chronic heart failure.

Christopher Gardner-Thorpe

[Brit.med.J.,2007 335 103]

(Volume XII, page web)

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