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Obituary: Peter Milton

A tribute given at the July 2010 meeting of Council

There are many in this Council who, like me, will remember Peter with great fondness. He was a wonderful and charming man, who made a great contribution to life and medicine.

Born on the 17 January 1938, Peter was educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Liverpool, and then at King’s College, London, for second MB, and St George’s Hospital Medical School for his clinical studies. He achieved MBBS in 1964, having previously passed the Conjoint examination in September 1963.

Peter’s many academic achievements include the MRCOG in June 1970, his MD thesis in 1978 on Endometrial Hyerplasia, his MA (Cantab) in 1978 and his FRCOG in 1983.

Peter’s career as a doctor began in 1963. He was House Physician at St George’s Hospital and then a House Surgeon at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester. He had appointments in Obstetrics and Accident and Emergency at St George’s, as well as then being an SHO in Anaesthetics at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

His obstetrics and gynaecology career really began in August 1967 with his appointment at the Lambeth Hospital and then at St Thomas’ Hospital as a Registrar. In 1971 he went to the Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, before returning to complete his Registrar and Senior Registrar post at St Thomas’.

In 1972 he became a Research Associate at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories at Lincoln Inn Fields, London, with his studies on Endometrial Hyperplasia leading to his MD.

He was appointed as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals Trust in 1976.

Like many eminent and leading clinicians, Peter held a number of local and regional appointments but he was particularly proud of introducing ante-natal screening and pre-natal diagnosis for the Cambridge area. He also played a major part in the introduction and development of colposcopic services.

At a national level Peter was an Assessor for the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Mortality, as well as being the RCOG representative on the National Continuing Medical Education Directors Board.

More recently Peter was Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for the NHS Ombudsman. He took up this post around his retirement and I am sure that he was the ideal person. He always had a smile, he spoke kindly and sympathetically and would have listened intently with a view to helping patients with their concerns. As one of the last true generalists he had great experience and would have offered impartial and excellent clinical advice.

Many of us remember him through his roles here at the Royal College. He served on a particularly large number of committees. His interest spanned several areas of College activities and amongst them he became Convenor of Postgraduate Meetings, Chairman of the RCOG Continuing Medical Education Committee and Chairman of the Education Board. He was a Council Member between 1993 and 2001 and was on F&E between 1997 and 1998.

Peter thoroughly enjoyed his term as Senior Vice-President between 1998 and 2001- a role in which he excelled. He was keen to develop international links and was a great ambassador for the College. In 2006, he was also President of the Obstetrics and Gynaecological section of the RSM.

This list of achievements, no matter how impressive, does not paint the full picture of this great man. He loved life and particularly his family. He met his wife, Jane, when he was working as an SHO at St George’s and he went on to have three children, of whom he was very proud. It is a great tragedy, but perhaps some solace, that he was on a family holiday in Italy when his illness came so suddenly out of the blue earlier this month.

Peter loved sailing. He always had boats, including his first boat, a “heron”, which he built himself. He had a passionate love for the sea and still had a “Shrimper” at Aldeburgh Yacht Club where he was due to sail in a Regatta in a couple of weeks’ time. Peter came from a family with strong marine connections; both his father and grandfather were marine engineers. His career choice of medicine was in a new direction for the family, but at least, keeping in with their tradition, his love for sailing was just as strong.

Although known to many, I was unaware, until I heard recently, that he was also very good at art. He started through sketching but progressed to painting and would often paint wonderful images of his visits abroad on RCOG business. He was obviously a man of many talents and succeeded in all he did.

We will all remember Peter in our special ways. I remember Peter as a senior figure when I first came on to Council; someone who was always very kind and caring, never over-powering, but always supportive with gentle and individual advice. I particularly relished Jane and Peter’s company at the many social events that we shared.

His death has caused great sadness to all those who knew him. As a testament to the fondness in which he was held, all those whom I contacted about his life, felt the same – he was a great and kind man – much loved by his family – Janie, his wife – his children, Jessica, Oliver, and Toby, and his four grandchildren – and of course by all those who knew him. His sudden loss is a tragedy and he is badly missed.

Ric Warren