Appreciation: Bill Copland, radiology specialist and retired Surgeon Captain in RNR

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William Alexander Copland. Born: 12 July 1924. Died: 26 January 2017

Bill was born in Aberdeen in 1924. Bill was the son of a Robert Gordon’s Classic Master and the grandson of a Deeside policeman.

In 1936 Bill won a Foundationer Scholarship to Robert Gordons College. In 1941 at the age of 16 he started medical studies at Aberdeen University aided by the Mather Open Bursary Scholarship. The course was squeezed into five years because of the war. Bill contributed to the war effort by joining the University Home Guard Battalion and by taking regular shifts as a fire watcher.

Bill enjoyed university life he played in the Aberdeen University Symphony Orchestra, Aberdeen University musical shows and in a dance band. In 1946 Bill qualified MB CHB and he started house jobs at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Like many of the post-WW11 generation Bill was anxious to ‘do his bit’. In 1947 he signed up for national Service in the Royal Navy. He was posted to Loch Class Frigate Quoich in the Persian Gulf. The Persian Gulf (post-Indian independence) was an unstable region and there were significant risks involved in showing the flag.

The Medical Officer adapted quickly and so started a love for the Royal Navy, the sea and sailing.

After national service, Bill joined the permanent Royal Naval Reserve (RNR). He regarded this as a second career and he threw himself into it enthusiastically. Bill retired from the RNR as Surgeon Captain William Copland, Principal Medical Officer HMS Claverhouse Edinburgh and Head of the Medical Branch Royal Naval Reserve.

In 1949, Bill took a Post Graduate specialisation in Radiology where he met a fellow Post Graduate, Dr June Hunter. They married in December 1952 and had daughters Ros, Caly and Julia. Bill and June spent the next 64 years together.

Married life started in Bristol and London before moving to Edinburgh for a Consultant Radiology post at the Western and Northern General Hospitals where he worked for the next 29 years.

It was an exciting time to be in the fast-developing specialty of diagnostic imaging. During Bill’s time the X-ray department expanded from two rooms in 1956 to 16 rooms in 1971. In 1973 ultrasound came to Edinburgh and Bill was particularly proud to have produced the first ultrasound image of a pancreas at the Western General Hospital.

In the 1970s Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons were concerned that trainee surgeons were not seeing enough X-ray material and asked Bill to collect and curate a collection of high-quality images. Bill’s images were used for teaching, in textbooks and atlases and a few years ago he was delighted to discover they were appearing on the web. Bill was made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons for assembling the collection. This started a long and enjoyable association with the surgical college and its museum.

Bill was an active member of The Scottish Radiological Society. Bill retired in 1985 aged 61 and enjoyed an active life. He was a regular golfer and was involved with organisations like Low Back Pain and Edinburgh Lipreading. He was a member and supporter of the Sea Cadet Association in Scotland. He was fascinated by history , loved word derivation and undertook a major genealogy project tracing the family back to 12th Century.

Bill was a loving,kind and caring man and was well known to go over and above to selflessly help others. He leaves his wife Dr June Copland, their three daughters Ros, Caly and Julia and six grandchildren.

IAIN MILNE