b.3 January 1927 d.18 April 2014
BA Lond(1951) MB ChB Edin(1960) MRCP(1967) FRCP(1983) PhD(1997)
Peter McMullin was a consultant paediatrician in Warrington and Halton. He was born in Kerala, India, to Marjorie and Robert James McMullin, who ran a tea plantation. In 1935 the family came back to England, settling in Robertsbridge, East Sussex. After attending King’s School, Canterbury, Peter carried out his National Service, first in the Guards and then in the Intelligence Corps, spending time in Germany and Malaysia. In 1948, when his National Service was completed, he studied German and French at University College, London, took several jobs in business, which he hated, and suffered a perforated peptic ulcer. It was during his convalescence from this illness that he decided to become a doctor.
He entered Edinburgh medical school in 1954 as a mature student, nearly ten years older than his fellow students: his maturity, quiet altruism and intelligence made him a leading figure in the class. During this period Peter also founded and edited a literary journal, Gambit, and in 1956 he drove an ambulance across Europe to deliver medical equipment to the rebels during the Hungarian Uprising.
After house jobs in Edinburgh, he went to the United States to start training in general medicine and research, and while there he met and married his much-loved wife, Theresa (née Langdon). They returned to the UK and Peter decided to specialise in paediatrics. After completing his training in London and Sheffield, he obtained a post as a consultant paediatrician in Chester. He left to spend two years in Tehran, Iran, shortly before the overthrow of the Shah.
He returned to Cheshire as a consultant in Warrington. He was also a clinical lecturer at Liverpool University and a postgraduate clinical tutor at Warrington, posts he held until he retired from the NHS in 1990. He continued to work intermittently as a locum consultant paediatrician, both in the UK and abroad, until 1996.
He was a generalist in his discipline, although he maintained special interests in childhood diabetes and in particular in epilepsy. He published numerous scientific papers and a book (Children who have fits London, Duckworth, 1981), which aimed to explain epilepsy to parents.
Following his retirement, Peter and Theresa moved to Winchelsea in East Sussex. As well as his golf, walking and his allotment, Peter maintained an active interest in things German: he was a member of the Anglo-German Medical Society until his death. He gained a PhD in German literature and wrote two books on Thomas Mann (Enchanted gardens, magic mountains, perilous seas, fabulous beasts: Thomas Mann and the natural world Salzburg, Stuttgarter Arbeiten zur Germanistik, 2000 and Childhood and children in Thomas Mann’s fiction, Edwin Mellen Press, 2002). He lived just long enough to see the publication of his first novel, The hills of happiness (Author Way, 2013).
After a long, happy and fulfilling life, Peter died of complications following a mitral valve replacement. He was survived by Theresa, their two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.
A C H Watson
[A version of this obituary was first published in the BMJ (2014 348 3473). Reproduced with permission]
(Volume XII, page web)
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