Obituary: Professor J. Richard Batchelor (SU 1945-49)

PROFESSOR Richard Batchelor, MD, FRCP died on December 21st 2015 at the age of 84.

He was one of a group of eminent medical scientists who made pioneering advances in the field of tissue typing and organ transplants in the second half of the last century. He was Honorary Research Professor in the Royal College of Surgeons (England), Professor of Immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, and President of the (International) Transplantation Society.

Batchelor, born in 1931 in Woking, grew up with his parents in Chennai, then Madras, India during the last years of British colonial rule. An early familial connection with immunology was that his grandfather was deputy Director of the Indian Medical Service and had established the Pasteur Institute at Coonoor with a mandate to develop vaccines for rabies. Batchelor’s father was a businessman who worked for Binney’s & Co. Batchelor was educated at Marlborough College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

During childhood, Batchelor used to play hockey along the balcony of his father’s house in Binney Road. He was a keen bicycler, regularly cycling to the park at Guindy where he used to chase the deer on his bicycle. He also claimed that he rode down the Western Ghats from Kodaikanl to Madras on his bicycle (but that is rather a long way).

Batchelor left the warm climate and privileged colonial life in Southern India for the colder existence in Marlborough. He was there from 1945-49, which of course included the famous winter of 1947.

He went to Summerfield House. Life-long friend, and head of house Nicholas Roskill, recalls that he was a good sportsman, particularly good in swimming – perhaps due to having had the advantage of a pool at home in India.