Alumni Services

Peter Paterson-Brown

Peter Paterson-Brown’s medical degree flew by in a whirlwind of inspiring teaching, cricket tours, Saturday dances, and daily lunches at the Union.

Name Peter Neville Paterson-Brown
Degree Course MBChB
Year of Graduation 1955
Peter Paterson-Brown

Your time at the University

As I lived in Edinburgh and my father was a Consultant Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary I suppose it wasn’t surprising that I went there to study Medicine. I don’t remember filling in any application form. My A Level exam results were very average and of course there were no interviews in those days; sadly and in my opinion wrongly Edinburgh University still has a no interview policy.

I started in 1949 in what was the last of the 6 year curriculum. The first year was a total waste of time as the physics, chemistry, zoology, and botany had been largely covered at school (though it didn’t stop me failing the physics exam!) We dissected dog fish at King’s Buildings, and radishes near the Botanic Gardens.

The following five years are unforgettable and I loved it all. We had some superb teachers: Sir Derek Dunlop, Tommy Millar, and Sir James Learmonth (who operated on King George VI for peripheral vascular disease), to name just three, and a host of wonderful colleagues.

I was fortunate as I played cricket and rugby for the University and was able to visit all the Scottish Universities and also Oxford, Cambridge and Durham. A trip to Durham for a cricket match was especially memorable. They had a fast bowler named Tyson, (later called Typhoon Tyson), who was the fastest bowler we had ever seen or faced. I was bowled for one and ran to the pavilion in case the umpire called me back for a no ball!

The following year he was selected to play in the English Test Squad that travelled to Australia for the Ashes Tournament.

Our social life revolved round the Union. This was a male only establishment except for every Saturday evening when a very well attended dance was held and girls were extremely welcome. I lived at home, but most students lived in digs and, like me I think, had lunch in the Union; two courses and coffee cost two and sixpence ( 12 & 1/2p in today’s money). I qualified in 1955.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I was very fortunate to have house jobs with Sir Derek Dunlop and Tommy Millar and I am eternally grateful for what I learnt from them. Further house jobs in obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics, followed. Long hours were the norm, but after being a student for six years it was wonderful to have just a wee bit of responsibility. We were paid about £7 a week which was, I believe slightly less than the cleaners. I then had a month to spare and did two locums in General Practice in Elie and Cowie.

In 1957 I joined a General Practice in Hawick and remained there till I retired in 1991. Those 35 years were all one could have asked for. There was very little political interference. Your patients became your friends and you almost became one of the family.

I became very interested in First Aid and this led to me becoming Hononary Medical Officer for the Red Cross in Scotland.

Our social life revolved round the Union. This was a male only establishment except for every Saturday evening when a very well attended dance was held and girls were extremely welcome.

Peter Paterson-Brown

After retiring from Medicine I found that I missed my patients, missed I suppose being needed or wanted and I did some Locums in the Highlands. After a few years I began to find I was becoming “rusty” and decided to lay down my stethoscope before I made a stupid mistake.

Then in around 1994 I was invited to join a small group of adults who were anxious to set up a Hospice for children. And so CHAS (Children’s Hospice Association Scotland) was born and in 1996 Rachel House in Kinross opened.

I finally properly retired in 2004 and now live a lazy life; golfing badly, fishing unsuccessfully and occasionally reading for the blind with Borders Talking Newspaper. 

I still keep in touch with the NHS through two of my four children and two of my eight grandchildren who decided to join the Medical Profession. A third grandchild has had an interview for Medicine at four Universities (but of course not Edinburgh!) and is waiting to learn the result. It would be wrong not to add that my wife June was also a doctor: we were both graduates of the same year.

Alumni wisdom

This is a difficult one. My family say I am very good at giving advice but don’t think it’s much good! Well, here goes. I don’t think it is enough to care for someone, you must also care about them.