Obituary - Sir Peter Gadsden GBE AC

Sir Peter Gadsden GBE AC

1929 to 2006

We are sorry that the death of Sir Peter, one of our Honorary Fellows, has not been commented on in any College publication. He was Chairman of our Appeals Committee in the run-up to the purchase and establishing of our first headquarters in Russell Square. Although the Fellows and organisations and enterprises closely associated with anaesthesia were responsible for a major proportion of our financial support, there was an obvious need of support from the wider community of charities and well wishers at home and abroad, and a related need for an appeals chairman who would be influential amongst the business community, credible amongst the wider medical community but sufficiently far from the specialty to be a reliable source of objective advice. Peter Gadsden was ideal in that role. His life story has made a most readable book but it is difficult to convey the dynamism of the man.

Although Peter grew up in Shropshire, he was born in Alberta. His father was a mi8ssionary priest who had been ordained in Australia. Peter’s first profession was in geology. He also trained as an engineer and rose quickly to become managing director of a mining company, Murphyores, whose headquarters were in London. From the early 1960s his business interests spread widely on an international scale, extending well beyond geology and mining. He was chairman of Private Patients Plan (PPP Healthcare) from 1994 to 1996.

Peter Gadsden was a significant public servant, Sheriff and then Alderman of the City of London, culminating in 1979 as Lord Mayor. Before and after that high point of his civic career he was a member of seven livery companies: Master of the Clothworkers and Founder Master of the Engineers. He and Lady Gadsden were landowners in Shropshire, Northumberland, and Sussex, but to many of his friends his metier was the Square Mile. Of many possible meeting places in relation to the college, Guildhall seemed particularly suitable to him; after the business of the day was complete, Peter could always find time for a little tour guide activity. He was a generous host, often at one of the livery halls. Those who fancied transportation I the City by Sedan chair or even a taxi were usually disappointed. Peter walked amongst London traffic with confidence and daring when even cab drivers seemed to respect.

The College has cause to be grateful to Peter Gadsden and his wife who served us well. His family motto is ‘thoroughly with enthusiasm’ which is also the title of his biography. The expression is entirely apposite.

Michael Rosen CBE
Alastair Spence CBE