Lives of the fellows

Peter William Monckton Copeman

b.9 April 1932 d.13 July 2018
BA Cantab(1953) MB BChir(1956) MRCP(1961) MD(1972) FRCP(1975)

Peter Copeman was a consultant dermatologist at the Westminster Hospital, London. He came from a long line of eminent doctors. His grandfather, Sydney Monckton Copeman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.409], put Jenner's smallpox vaccine into a form which led to world eradication of this deadly disease. His father, William Sydney Charles Copeman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.120], known as 'the father of rheumatology' created this specialty. His mother was Helen Copeman née Bourne.

Peter was born in London at the Welbeck Nursing Home. He was brought up in Hampstead and was evacuated during the war. At Eton, as captain of shooting, he was on course to achieve the record score at Bisley for the Ashburton Shield, the premier inter-schools shooting competition, but he placed a final bull on the wrong target! After Cambridge, he qualified at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School. He began by specialising in eyes, but his research papers on styes in The Lancet led to him being poached by a skin department.

He completed his gold medal award thesis on malignant melanoma and was awarded the MRCP in 1961 when the pass rate was only 5.8%. After a year of research at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he was appointed as a consultant dermatologist at Westminster Hospital.

Alongside working for the NHS, he gave his expertise to St Luke's Home for the Clergy and set up a private practice in Sloane Street, London. Patients flew in from all corners of the globe to seek his world-renowned expertise.

Peter was a church warden and trustee at St Mary's, Bourne Street, an appreciator of the arts and a connoisseur of fine wines. When chairman of the wine committee of the Athenaeum, he persuaded the artist Eduardo Paolozzi to design the wine labels.

He enjoyed field sports and was an active and founder member of the Game Conservancy Trust. By creating hedgerows for wildlife corridors and a series of ponds on his farm in Northumberland, he became a finalist for the Laurent Perrier conservation award.

He married Lindsey Brims in 1973. He was a devoted family man and at his happiest in the company of his wife, four children (Mary, Louisa, Caroline and Andrew) and nine grandchildren.

Peter's last NHS position was as senior consultant dermatologist at the Daniel Turner unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, a unit which he established. After retiring from the National Health Service, Peter continued private practice in SW1.

After being afflicted with a series of small strokes and a rare form of arthritis, Peter died peacefully with his daughter, Louisa, by his side.

Louisa Elder

[BMJ 2018 362 3758 www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3758 – accessed 5 September 2018; The Times 3 August 2018 www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dr-peter-copeman-obituary-b6bmphzvp – accessed 5 September 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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