Lives of the fellows

Richard Wellesley Spencer

b.23 June 1921 d.28 October 2014
MB ChB Birm(1944) MRCP(1951) MRCPath(1964) FRCPath(1972) FRCP(1975)

Richard Wellesley Spencer was a consultant chemical pathologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske. He was born in Alcester, Warwickshire, the son of Richard Henry Spencer, a general practitioner. Two of his sisters also went on to have medical careers. He was educated at Alcester Grammar School and then studied medicine at Birmingham University. He qualified MB ChB in 1944 with a distinction in surgery.

He was a resident house surgeon and house physician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and then joined the Royal Navy in 1945 as a surgeon lieutenant. He served until 1947.

Following his demobilisation, he held a house physician post at the Metropolitan Hospital, London. From 1951 to 1957 he was a junior pathologist in Birmingham, a junior assistant pathologist at the University of Cambridge and then a senior registrar in clinical pathology at Bristol Royal Infirmary. In 1957 he became a lecturer in the department of chemical pathology at the University of Leeds.

From 1960 he was a consultant pathologist in west Cornwall. He helped transform and modernise the service, appointing senior colleagues and closing smaller, less efficient community level laboratories. He is also credited with starting one of the earliest courier services for the transfer of pathological material.

He held a variety of other managerial and postgraduate teaching posts while at Treliske. He was hospital group officer in charge of major incident planning for the Cornwall clinical area and advised the board of a local hospice.

In 1972 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. Three years later, he was elected to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians.

Outside medicine he was interested in astronomy.

In 1956 he married Jacqueline Ann Coombes, the daughter of an aviator. They had two sons and a daughter, and five grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2015 350 2735 – accessed 23 December 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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