Lives of the fellows

John Clifford Pease

b.22 January 1916 d.6 November 2009
BA Oxon(1936) BM BCh(1941) MRCP(1948) DM(1950) FRCP(1970)

John Clifford Pease was a general physician and diabetologist at Mansfield Hospital, Nottinghamshire. He was born in Hackness, Yorkshire, but soon moved to Heydon, Norfolk, where his father, James Ernest Pease, was the rector. His father unfortunately died when he was aged 10, and he and his mother, Janet Elizabeth Pease née Little, were then invited to live with his aunt, Isabelle Little, in Oxford. She was setting up the first female general practice in the city and later, controversially, the first family planning clinic. With this environment it is perhaps hardly surprising that medicine became the focus of his life.

He was educated at Newlands School, Seaford, and Haileybury College. At University College Oxford, he received a BA in 1936, and went on to the Middlesex Hospital, qualifying in 1941. His first medical jobs were at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.

In January 1942 he joined 158 Field Ambulance and was then, for three years, resident medical officer in the 92 Field Regiment in India, Iran and Italy. From December 1945 to October 1946 he worked as a graded physician in Hamburg, Berlin and Glasgow. This was to give him invaluable experience of general medicine, tropical diseases and tuberculosis.

Once John was de-mobbed, he returned to the Radcliffe, Oxford, to work under Alec Cooke [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.127], who was to be influential in helping to form his understanding of the needs of diabetics. He wrote his thesis on ‘The place of the diabetic clinic in the management of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus’. He gained his DM (Oxford) in 1950.

In 1952 he was appointed as a consultant physician in general medicine and diabetes in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. In 1956 he was instrumental in setting up and becoming the physician in charge of Langwith Lodge Diabetic Convalescent Home. It was the only unit of its kind in the UK. It was his pioneering work there which led to developments in the areas of diabetic nursing, health visiting in the management of diabetic patients, and diabetic clinics. He was a dedicated teacher and did much to raise money for the postgraduate medical centre at Mansfield.

He became a member of the Nottingham University Medical School from 1975. He received a Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal in June 1977. He retired in 1980. Shortly after this, the King’s Mill Hospital near Mansfield opened a new diabetic wing, and he was delighted when they called it the ‘John Pease Diabetic Centre’.

While at Oxford he met the person who was to mean so much to him throughout his life, Barbara Higham. They married with great celebration in 1941 – despite the war! During the late 1940s and early fifties his four children were born, James, Juliet and the twins, Rosie and Colin. He retired to Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, although he continued some part-time work for the next five years as a clinical assistant at the Norfolk and Norwich diabetic outpatients. Once in Wells he was able to pursue many of his other interests: bird watching, bowls, croquet, gardening and the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve.

Two of his children and five of his 10 grandchildren have become doctors. Throughout his life he was steadfast in his love for his family, medicine and the environment.

Colin Pease

(Volume XII, page web)

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