Saturday, 18 September 2021

Dr Peter Coldwell: September 18, 1922-February 7, 2016

Dr Peter Herbert Coldwell, MRCS, LRCP, DMRD. September 18, 1922-February 7, 2016

Dr Peter Herbert Coldwell, MRCS, LRCP, DMRD. September 18, 1922-February 7, 2016

PETER, son of Walter Herbert Coldwell and Barbara Joan Smith, was born at Harrow-on-the-Hill on September 18, 1922 in a house called Chalgrove.

His grandfather, Walter Augustus Coldwell, was a specialist photographer and experimented with X-rays.

His ignorance of the dangers associated with radiation was to cost him his fingers and hands due to severe radiation burns.

This interest in X-rays was to prompt both his son and grandson into the medical profession as radiologists.



Peter’s early years were spent in Harrow and subsequently in Moor Park, near Northwood.

He attended Westbury Manor School in Brackley, Northamptonshire, until 1936 and then West Deyne House within Uppingham School in Rutland until 1940.

It was here that Peter met Matthew Forster from the affiliated Kingswood School. Both were destined to become lifelong friends and share an interest in medicine.

Peter’s parents bought a plot of land in the centre of what is now the championship golf course at Moor Park. A new house was built overlooking an ornamental lake above Cardinal Wolsey’s residence which today serves as the clubhouse.

During the Second World War, the clubhouse became HQ for the Allied Command 6th Airborne Division, commanded by General Browning. Senior officers were billeted in the surrounding homes and General Bond (then a brigadier) was billeted with Peter’s family.

While at Uppingham, Peter won a place to study medicine at Hertford College, Oxford, in 1940.

He remained at Oxford until 1944 and played rugby for the college’s first team. Peter concluded his medical qualifications in London and subsequently worked as a house officer at Westminster Hospital in 1944. After a year, he moved to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

Peter married Kathleen Cussans on May 1, 1948 at the Vere Street church just behind Oxford Street and they moved into a new bungalow in the garden of Kathleen’s parents’ substantial home, affectionately called The Cottage, in Woolmer Green, near Stevenage.

Peter and Kathleen’s son Paul arrived on August 12, 1949.

Between 1950 and 1953, Peter worked as a medical officer in the Royal Air Force, doing his national service at Moreton-in-Marsh, then returning to London to be attached to the Air Ministry medical department in Hallam Street.

Following a short period as an anatomy demonstrator at King’s College London, he passed exams and gained the medical qualifications of MRCS, LRCP and DMRD.

He became a radiologist in the X-ray department of Westminster Hospital in 1953 and remained there until 1958 when he became consultant radiologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

The family moved to Sonning where daughter Camilla arrived on March 28, 1959.

For the next 18 years, the family lived in a house called Byways in Charvil Lane and the family worshipped at St Andrew’s Church, Throughout this period, Peter worked alternately at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Battle Hospital, Peppard Chest Hospital, Newbury Hospital and Townlands Hospital in Henley. Kathleen worked for the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s League of Friends.

In 1975, the family moved to a smaller home, Minstrels, in Woodlands Road, Harpsden.

They attended weekly services at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church in Shiplake, where Kathleen was a flower arranger. In 1988, Peter retired from the hospital some two years early due to glaucoma. He was no longer convinced that he could fully read and interpret everything evident on an  X-ray film.

Peter and Kathleen were part of the late Liz Salmon’s team, raising funds for Cancer Research at the biannual sale in Henley town hall.

Peter rekindled an earlier passion for golf and played regularly at Harpsden Golf Club until about 2005, by which time his glaucoma had become worse.

Following several falls and the need for a hip replacement, he became increasingly immobile and both he and Kathleen required live-in care for their last two years at Minstrels. They remained there until Kathleen’s death on Christmas Eve 2010.

In May 2011, Peter moved to Torkington House care home in Acton, West London, where the staff looked after him superbly and he wanted for nothing. He lived happily there for the remainder of his life.

The afternoon before his death, he enjoyed the Calcutta Cup rugby match and another resident’s 90th birthday celebration. He retired to bed that evening and passed away peacefully on the morning of February 7 of natural causes.

Peter became an Upholder City Liveryman in 1948 and by 2012 was the oldest surviving liveryman in the company. His son became an Upholder and freeman of the City of London in 1989 by right of patrimony, as both Kathleen and Peter had become freemen before he was born in 1949.

Peter is survived by his sister Juliet, his children Paul and Camilla and their spouses, Fiona and Bob, his grandchildren, Vanessa, Giles, Nicholas, Isobel and Joanna, and Nick’s wife, Lauren.

A thanksgiving service will be held at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Shiplake at on Thursday (March 17).



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