Peter Murray Richard HemphillBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2277 (Published 21 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2277
- Richard Hemphill
Peter Murray Richard Hemphill was born in Bareilly, north India, the first son of Kathleen and Major Robert Hemphill (DSO), a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). Peter’s sister, Sheila, was born in 1921, and his younger brother, David, arrived in 1924. By this time the family was back in England, although his parents had further postings to Cyprus and Egypt during their children’s early years.
Peter attended prep school at West Hill Park, Titchfield, until 1933. He then attended Wellington College, Crowthorne, until 1939. At Easter 1935, on a family holiday in north Cornwall, the children witnessed the death of their parents in an accidental fall from sea cliffs. It was Peter’s 15th birthday, and he showed amazing courage, skill, and presence of mind by climbing down to the sea unharmed in an attempt to rescue them. Unable to achieve this, he then climbed all the way back up unaided, again without slipping and falling himself, to run a significant distance to an unmanned coastguard hut, where he smashed a window, reached a phone and raised the alarm. Thus, the three children became orphans, and these terrible events irrevocably scarred the rest of their lives.
However, Peter buckled down and prospered at school and secured a place to read medicine at Clare College, Cambridge, fulfilling his ambition …