Dorothy Pearson dies – a life helping others

Dorothy Pearson, centre, with former MP Nicholas Winterton and staff at East Cheshire Hospice

Dorothy Pearson, a good servant of the Whaley Bridge community, a distinguished former consultant at the Christie cancer hospital and a former chair at the East Cheshire Hospice in Macclesfield, has died suddenly at the age of 87.  She had survived an operation in the Manchester Royal Infirmary, and was due to come home when there was a relapse and she was transferred to Intensive Care.

Dr Dorothy Pearson was a consultant paediatric oncologist at the Christie from the 1950s until she retired about 25 years ago.  She had a world-wide reputation in the treatment of childhood tumours and gave lectures on radiotherapy treatment of young patients in many countries. Dorothy was president of both the International Society for Children’s Cancer and of United Kingdom Children’s Cancer Co-ordinating Committee and also received  an Honorary MSc from Derby University.

The pioneering work that she and others did during the 1960s at the Christie and the Holt Radium Institute in Manchester undoubtedly helped to save young lives in subsequent years.  One of her young patients, a little boy from Whaley Bridge who survived  cancer, brought joy to Dorothy last year when he took his months-old son to visit her.

Staff at East Cheshire Hospice, which started before the High Peak Hospice and was used by many High Peak patients, were saddened by the news.  As a medical consultant to the hospice when it was still being planned – it opened in 1988 – Dorothy put in a tremendous amount of work.  When she retired as medical consultant, she became a trustee and later chairman of the trustees.  The day care unit, opened in 2000, was later named after her.  Dorothy donated three stained glass windows to the chapel – a shaft of sunlight running across the panels has comforted many people.  Volunteers remembered her as ‘a very good listener, self-effacing and just a delight’.

Dorothy, from a Yorkshire family, had lived in Whaley Bridge for over 40 years.  Her father from Keighley spent his last years in a local nursing home to be near her.

Dorothy’s work with the Parish of Whaley Bridge encompassed everything, from being an assistant churchwarden to singing in the choir or sitting on the management committee for the parish rooms.  She was a member of the Garden Association and a founder member of the Amenity Society, and later its president.  She thought nothing of joining colleagues in the water to clean up a river.  Dorothy was a lifelong Labour Party member – her great friend Catherine Harlow was once Labour county councillor for Whaley Bridge and Dorothy herself a local town councillor.  She was a governor, then chair, for decades at the Peak special school at Chinley.

One of Dorothy’s few relatives, Eve Collen, a cousin by marriage, said:  “Dorothy had a wonderful life and did so much  – if everybody could go out like that, they would be happy.”

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