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ss triple helix - winter 2023,  obituaries


The Reverend Professor Peter William Brunt, CVO, OBE, MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FRCSE (Hon)

(b 1936, Prestatyn, Wales, q 1959, Liverpool, d 2023, Morpeth, Northumberland) Professor Peter Brunt was a truly extraordinary man - an exceptional doctor, a gifted minister, and a loving family man and friend. From a very early age, Peter knew he wanted to study medicine. Graduating from Liverpool medical school in 1959, he went on to do house jobs in Liverpool Royal Infirmary. He married Anne, a fellow medical graduate, in 1961. After further jobs in Liverpool, he left for a research post at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with his wife and three daughters. He studied familial dysautonomia, under Victor McKusick (the founding father of medical genetics), attaining his MD and sparking his love of and future career in gastroenterology.

Returning from the States two years later, Peter worked in Edinburgh with Bill Sircus, and then in London with Dame Sheila Sherlock. She wished to keep Peter, but fortunately for the people of Northeast Scotland, he accepted an appointment as consultant physician with an interest in gastrointestinal (GI) disease in Aberdeen in 1970. He rapidly established an excellent GI unit, which became renowned throughout the UK. Peter travelled between three sites on a sturdy old bicycle in all weathers and at all times of day and night!

Peter was greatly concerned by the increasing incidence of alcohol-related liver disease in society. His compassion and care for those trapped in alcohol dependency was enormous. He sat on and chaired many local and national committees, advised the Scottish government, and received funding for research projects to advance treatment for these patients. He published widely. Peter's special interest in young people with severe Crohn's disease was inspiring. He looked after many, thrilled to see them grow up and function as thriving adults despite their disease.

In 1983, Peter became the Queen's physician, a post which he held until his retirement in 2001, when he was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. He had many visits with the Queen and Queen Mother at Balmoral, which he considered a huge privilege.Peter had a tremendous relationship with his surgical and medical colleagues. Each Friday morning, every member of his team, including the ward sister, was given an appointment with him so he could check that all was well with them. If you were in his presence, you received his undivided attention. Ward rounds with him were a rich experience. They would often, however, take all day! His extensive knowledge in so many subjects meant he was able to relate to everyone. He may have read the same book that a patient had on their cabinet, and he would launch into a review. He told many a charming anecdote at a bedside. He was deeply interested in his patients. He wrote in the patients' notes with large, flourishing letters using a green or purple fountain pen. In the middle of the night, therefore, with a sick patient, it was easy to find Professor Brunt's plans for them. Many young doctors wished to emulate him. His integrity, wisdom, care and Christian character were exemplary.

Peter was a brilliant teacher. Even after he retired, he continued for five years to teach the early medical students the art of history taking. In 1996, he received a personal chair. The Gastroenterology Unit in Aberdeen is named the Peter Brunt centre, a reflection of the high esteem in which he was held.

Peter's Christian faith was evident to all. He taught a Crusader class and was very involved in both his church and the Christian Medical Fellowship. Once, when talking to a group of captivated Christian medical students, he told the story of walking through the city of Westminster in late 1963 on his way to his final MRCP viva. Feeling slightly overwhelmed, he noted an inscription on a building which read 'In quietness and confidence shall be your strength' from Isaiah 30:15. He immediately had a sense of peace. Throughout his life, Peter emanated that quiet confidence and strength in his God. He was always willing to speak to CMF student groups and take students to the annual conference. He and Anne opened their home with generous hospitality to multiple students and junior doctors. Peter was humorous and his warmth and kindness were palpable.

Peter often preached, and following recommendation by the Bishop of Aberdeen, undertook training for ministry at the department of Divinity at Aberdeen University. Following further encouragement from the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Peter was ordained as a non-stipendiary rector in the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1996. He faithfully took services, opening the scriptures and caring pastorally for the congregations in Bieldside, Upper Deeside, Patterdale, and latterly in Northumberland.

In spite of his enormous achievements in the eyes of the world, Peter remained ever humble and true to Christ. The hymns sung at his funeral echoed that his life was focussed on glorifying God, and so we thank and praise God for the influence and imprint that Peter has left on many lives.

Pam and Simon Barker, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Pam served as one of Peter Brunt's House Officers (FY1/2) in the 1990s.

Ruth Yvonne Pavlovic (née Selwood)

(b 29/12/72, q 1997, United Medical and Dental School of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals, London, d 2/11/23, Sheffield)

It was as a medical student at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals Medical and Dental School that Ruth chose to follow Jesus. She became involved with CMF, becoming student editor of Nucleus from 1995 to 1997. Ruth had a brilliant mind, an incredible capacity for hard work, and a passion for the lost. She was excellent at making quick connections with people and was an extremely good editor and writer. Memorably, she had a letter to the BMJ published, pointing out that Nucleus and not the Student BMJ was the first international journal for medical students. [1]

Moving to Birmingham in 1998 to train in Medicine and then in General Practice, Ruth got involved in shaping CMF's activities locally, helping pioneer open house groups for junior doctors. From 2000 to 2003 she served as a CMF Staff Worker, initially for the Southwest and then the Midlands, investing into the lives of medical students in Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Leicester. Former CEO of CMF, Peter Saunders, recalls, 'Ruth was sometimes a challenge to work with, but she was incredibly productive. There was a certain impulsiveness about her, and she never quite mastered a hairstyle, but I always preferred the way Ruth did things to the way others didn't.'

On completing GP training, Ruth joined a Christian GP practice in West Bromwich, who agreed a flexible working pattern enabling her to travel and serve with the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA) in the Eurasia region. Ruth saw the need to be intentional in finding and building up Christian healthcare professionals in the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa (METNA). Pioneering ICMDA's work in this area, she was a great networker with a grasp of ethics, apologetics, and Islamics, and of the language and cultures of the region. Ruth understood the importance of working in partnership with others, developing relationships with PRIME,[2] HCFI,[3] and HOME,[4] amongst others. Across the vast METNA region she inspired people to serve Christ and laid the foundations for the ongoing work that continues until today.

In 2007, she moved with her husband, Alex, to Sheffield, where she pursued her interest in mental health, retraining in Psychiatry and Jungian Analysis. She had a voracious appetite for learning, achieving professional qualifications in three specialties and two masters. She was a brilliant doctor, colleague, and friend, with a servant heart - always willing to step in and help. She was adept at quite a range of activities, from playing the violin, piano, and latterly cello, to rock climbing, speaking French, learning Arabic, and playing tennis. And she had a great sense of humour. Although sometimes uncompromising and frustrating, Ruth had a passion for life and for others.

Life in Sheffield was not without adversity and challenge. Diagnosed with late-stage cancer in 2018, recent years were shaped by the regular rounds of chemo alongside being mum to Hugo. Ruth lived several years beyond when her death was prognosed - and this life and faith were seen by many as answered prayer. Although medically retired, Ruth took up her Jungian Analytic training again in 2022. Ruth took every setback with determination. While she openly - and healthily - expressed her anger and frustration, she held onto Christ, and he clearly held her.

Reflecting on a CMF summer team in 1996 Ruth wrote, 'If I learnt one lesson in Poland this summer, it is that God's Spirit is in control, ripening the fruit as he chooses. He simply requires workers willing to give the trees a good shake. Even an inept old one-eyed cow can shake a tree. All that he asks of us is to be faithful in each situation, not to worry about the big picture - which can be paralysing - but simply to "Trust in the Lord and do good" (Psalm 37:3).'[5]

Contributors: James Tomlinson, Peter Saunders, Mark Houghton, and John Gilbert


We were saddened to learn, just before going to press, of the passing of Keith Sanders (q June 1954, Bristol, d November 2023, Evesham). Keith trained in surgery and obstetrics in Bristol. Serving in the Merchant Navy during World War Two, he also served for several years as a medical missionary in North India at Raxaul Hospital. While there, several members remember meeting him as students, and finding him a great inspiration to their own missionary service.

Keith was CMF's second General Secretary, between 1974 and 1989. During his tireless, fifteen-year tenure, he travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles, meeting with local CMF groups, encouraging students, and persuading many more Christian doctors to join and get involved with the fellowship. During his time as General Secretary, the fellowship grew to roughly its current size, laying the foundations for everything CMF has grown into over the last four decades.

Concurrently with much of his time at CMF, Keith also served as General Secretary of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA) for several years.

He remained a passionate supporter of CMF for the rest of his life, showing a particular interest in the support of nurses and midwives and support their inclusion into the fellowship a decade ago. A more fulsome obituary for Keith will appear in the spring edition of Triple Helix.

A thanksgiving service for Keith's life is planned at Tewkesbury Abbey on 29 December at 2 pm. Please contact if you would like further details of the online service live stream.

Other members who have died recently:

James McIntyre (b 1932, q 1956, Edinburgh, d November 2023)

Mary Matthews (b 1954, q 1977, Kings College London, d October 2023)

Prof George Parks (q June 1959, Belfast, d 2023)

George Christopher Metcalfe (q June 1952, Cambridge, d July 2023)

Phillip Chapman (q June 1959, d October 2023)

(accessed 23/11/2023)
  1. Selwood R. Nucleus, not Student BMJ, was first international journal for medical students. BMJ 1996;313:1557c
  2. Partnerships in International Medical Education
  3. Healthcare Christian Fellowship International
  4. Healthcare Outreach Middle East
  5. Selwood R. Editorial. Nucleus. Winter 1996.
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