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Obituary: Melville Robert Fell (Peter Fell)

Mr President, Members of Council – we have lost a colourful, gregarious character with a great zest for life, be it in hospital, or at the Royal College, or undertaking his love of golf, opera, fast cars and good food and wine. Early in their relationship, he influenced his life long friend and colleague Geoff Smedley, to the life of a ‘Bon viveur', by introducing him to his well-known wine merchant, Francis Downman of St James.

Mr Peter Fell was educated at Repton School, before following his father into medicine. He studied during the war years, in the reserved occupation of medical student; the penalty for failed examinations being the immediate transfer down a coalmine as a ‘Bevan Boy'.

He qualified in 1946 and came under the inspiration of F J Browne, obstetrician at UCH, which inspired him to enter our discipline. After national service, he undertook the London training circuit, including resident obstetrician at Queen Charlottes Hospital. MRCOG 1952

In 1957 he was appointed as the second obstetrician ever to Salisbury Hospital. He spent 29 years in post providing exemplary care and devotion to the health needs of the women of this community. FRCOG 1965

Peter practised medicine to the highest quality standards. His trainees related that, in order to scrub up efficiently when preparing to operate, he produced from his locker a five-minute egg timer. They knew that they had to scrub until the last grain of sand had passed.

Although a man in great demand for national responsibilities he maintained a very close working relationship with nurses, midwives and colleagues in Salisbury. He was very kind to visiting doctors and communicated with many on an annual basis at Christmas. He also had a reputation for hosting Departmental parties.

He undertook many senior administrative functions locally, regionally and at the Royal College. He was Chairman of HRC 1981-1984, co-opted to Council 1981-1983, a member of Fellowship selection, Postgraduate, Examination and accreditation Committees. He was also postgraduate advisor for Wessex.

He was active in the new medical school at Southampton. His 14 publications include a paper in the Lancet on ECV.

He was a talented and fortunate man. He played soccer, squash and had a handicap of four for golf. However, fast cars were a real passion. He owned a Citroen Light 15. As Chairman of the Medical Staff, he would race a green Porsche, a successor to his Bentley, between the Infirmary and Oddstock Hospital, against a colleague, who drove a blue ‘E' type Jaguar. The results were confidential.

He retired in 1986 but continued as regional director of postgraduate training. He was supported throughout his career by his wife Pamela and his children Joanna and Christopher.

So Mr President, the City of Salisbury has lost a great doctor and leader. He was loved by his staff, thousands of patients and his colleagues for his charm and friendly personality. He made a difference to so many people's lives. He died after a long illness on 12/02/2007.

Anthony Falconer