Well-travelled professor Ian McCallum was a passionate Scot

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Medical professor Ian McCallum CBE has died at the age of 88.

As a widely published occupational health researcher and teacher, family man, keen gardener and active Old Town community member, Ian McCallum will be fondly remembered by many.

Although the family lived in London, Prof McCallum's mother, Netta, was a proud Scot and travelled up to Largs in 1920 to ensure her son was born north of the border.

But his father Charles's job meant he grew up in London, attending Dulwich College then training as a doctor at Guy's Hospital, graduating in 1943.

He trained as a chest physician at Royal Brompton Hospital in London before taking up a post at Nuffield Department of Industrial Health (now part of Newcastle University) in 1943.

In 1952, he married Jean, a social work tutor at Edinburgh University's school of social studies, at St John's Churchon Princes Street.

Prof McCallum and his new wife travelled to Pittsburgh, USA, in 1953 as he researched the effects of coal dust in miners' lungs as part of a year-long Rockefeller Fellowship.In 1954, the couple returned to settle in Wylam, near Newcastle, where they lived for 30 years.

They had four children – Helen, James, Mary and Andrew – and six grandchildren – Alexander, Charlotte, Isabel, Florence, Charlie and Sebastian.

Throughout his career, Prof McCallum carried out research into lead poisoning of workers decommissioning ships, and investigated decompression sickness in workers building the Tyne Tunnel.

Prof McCallum was passionate about his Scottish roots and was also a certificated Scottish dancing teacher, setting up the Newcastle Royal Scottish Dance Society.

He retired in 1986 and moved with his wife to Edinburgh.

The couple's flat at Chessell's Court was built in 1740 and Prof McCallum's interest in its history led them to discover it was the excise office where Deacon Brodie carried out his last robbery, and was once the home of author James Boswell.

He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and, among many other professional posts, honorary consultant in occupational medicine at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh.

He had also served on a government committee for pesticides and other English national bodies, and was awarded the CBE in 1987.

Shortly after moving to Edinburgh, Prof McCallum discovered a Ripley Scroll – an alchemical scroll illustrating the pursuit of the "philosopher's stone" or "elixir of life" – at the Royal College of Physicians' library, which led him to study, and write a book on, antimony.

Despite being retired for 20 years, until last year he had something published every single year.

He became a member of the Old Town Association and the Cockburn Association, and also attended St Giles' Cathedral.

He died in Liberton Hospital on Sunday after a four-year battle with Parkinson's Disease. A service will be held in St Giles' Cathedral on Friday at 3pm.

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