A tribute to Sir Roger Bannister

Sir Roger Bannister passed away peacefully on 3 March, aged 88, his family has announced.  

Sir Roger Bannister had a special connection to the hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. It was during his time at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (from 1951 to 1955) that he became the first person in history to run a mile in under four minutes. He worked his usual morning shift on the day of the historic race, taking the train from Paddington to Oxford once he had finished.

Sir Roger had a passion for running, but he retired from athletics in 1954, choosing instead to focus on his medical career.

During his impressive career he was house physician to Sir George Pickering at St Mary’s Hospital in 1955, before going on to work for physician Sir John McMichael at another of the Trust’s hospitals – Hammersmith Hospital – from 1956 to 1957. Later, he became a leading consultant neurologist at St Mary’s and the Western Eye hospitals, where he worked from 1963 until his appointment as Master of Pembroke College, Oxford in 1985.

Trust Chairman, Sir Richard Sykes, said: “Sir Roger Bannister achieved a huge amount in his lifetime, in both athletics and medicine. We’re extremely proud of the special link he had with our hospitals and for all that he was able to achieve here. He will continue to be a genuinely inspirational figure. ” 

Professor Jonathan Weber, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, said: “I first met Roger in 1982, when I arrived at St Mary’s as a registrar, learning to manage the first AIDS patients being admitted to Almroth-Wright ward. Many of our early patients had unusual neurological presentations, and Roger was fascinated by this new disease and was extraordinarily helpful and approachable to a very junior colleague.

“He left St Mary’s in 1985 but never dropped his close association with St Mary’s. He chaired the St Mary’s Development Trust from 1993 to 2004, contributing greatly to the refurbishment of the St Mary’s Medical School building following the creation of the Imperial College School of Medicine in 1997.“

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