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Remembering Professor Philip James

On October 30th, I was privileged to attend the funeral of Phil James who was a previous long-term Vice President of the Caroline Walker Trust (CWT) and the recipient of the CWT Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.  The Caroline Walker Trust sent a gift of an olive tree to Jean James in Phil’s memory.

Eulogies at the funeral were given by Phil’s sister, his daughter, Clare and Professor Paul Trayhurn. The post funeral gathering was held at the Canal Museum in North London, very close to Phil’s house.

Phil and his wife Jean got together when they were 18 and 19 – as a result of having attended the same Yorkshire boarding school and meeting up by chance with a group of other ex-pupils at a coffee bar which still exists!  They married prior to Phil’s final year studying medicine at UCL – causing a good deal of angst to Phil’s widowed mother! Given the diagnosis of bronchiectasis when he was still a student and the grim prognosis that he might not survive beyond his 40s, to have reached 85 was a miracle for Phil. He was amazing the way he coped with it for all those years.

Phil’s long career spanned the Tropical Metabolism Unit in Jamaica, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre in Cambridge and the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen.  If you want to know more about Phil’s career, his joy at being a campaigner and a dissenter, here is the autobiography that he wrote for me in the 2021 collation of Nutrition Society Presidents and Honorary Fellows.

On a personal note, I will always be grateful to Phil because, in 1980, he enabled my move within the Medical Research Council, from the Clinical Research Centre in Harrow to the Dunn in Cambridge.

The olive tree will be planted in the garden of their son, Mark, in Liverpool.  Phil’s ashes will be buried beneath it.

Dr Margaret Ashwell OBE
Vice President
The Caroline Walker Trust

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