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Medical pioneer ‘Dr P’ passes away

Brian Peckett with his wife, Maureen (Photograph provided)

Brian Peckett, the island’s first full-time anaesthetist and fondly known as Dr P, has died at the age of 90.

Dr Peckett’s arrival in Bermuda marked a leap forward for local medicine, where doctors had previously relied on colleagues to administer anaesthetic during a procedure — or do the job themselves.

Popular and appreciated, Dr Peckett was “a major part in the health community who always viewed coming to Bermuda as winning the lottery”, according to his son, orthopaedic surgeon Will Peckett.

“He loved Bermuda and was very proud of what he achieved here.”

Dr Peckett was the island’s first full-time anaesthetist, and at first was “on his own, on call 24/7”, his son said.

“In the early days, he was very into sailing. There were no pagers. The story was that if they needed him, they’d hoist a flag at the hospital, and he would come in from Hamilton Harbour.”

Dr Peckett was key in bringing in more anaesthetists for his practice. A group of practitioners developed until they were employed directly by the hospital.

Medicine drew him from his childhood in Grimsby, a booming fishing and industrial port in Lincolnshire: his sister won a medical scholarship to Cambridge University, and Dr Peckett recalled having his tonsils removed on the kitchen table at home, for which the GP arrived in a Rolls-Royce and wearing a top hat.

He attended Oundle School, followed by Clare College at Cambridge, then clinical studies at Middlesex Hospital, where he excelled as a top student in the early 1950s.

Dr Peckett served in the air force at Boscombe Down before returning to Middlesex to specialise in anaesthesiology, a swiftly modernising field. After spotting an advertisement, he was approached by Bermudian doctors — and decided to come to his new home.

“He was a natural doctor who loved what he did — he was gifted, which is a very lucky attribute,” his son told The Royal Gazette.

“He was very good, very competent, but also genuinely cared.”

A tightknit social life surrounded King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, and through events like the Christmas parties at his home, Dr Peckett was close with its old guard.

Both Pecketts were involved in a car crash in October 2016, and Mrs Peckett died in November.

Her husband passed away peacefully at home on January 31, with his children Deb, Lorna, Sarah, Tim and Will.