Obituary: Dr John Roberts, 80

Dr John Roberts
Dr John Roberts
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Dr John Roberts, a respected and hard-working city GP has died, aged 80.

John Roberts was born in Glasgow and brought up in the mining village of Whitburn, West Lothian, where both his father and grandfather had been landlord of a thriving pub, the Old Market Inn.

Customers included both thirsty miners calling in after their shifts and recruits fresh from the parade grounds of the local police college. It has been speculated that perhaps John learned his social skills clearing tables in that confrontational environment.

An only child, he attended Bathgate Academy, qualifying for university entrance when still in the fifth year, and went on to study medicine at Edinburgh University.

He spent his national service as a junior doctor attached to the signals corps of the Gurkhas and although he never saw action at war, his two years in the Far East saw him undertaking a number of demanding roles including the delivery of more than 100 babies, many without there being electricity in the home.

His doctoring was highly practical and straightforward. And he believed strongly in his patients taking responsibility for their own health.

On returning to Edinburgh he was to meet and marry, in 1976, Annie Slora, a dental student. Her effusive personality complemented his steadier approach and they were to work as a successful and popular team, with their home becoming an epicentre for a good deal of entertaining of musicians, with the Shetland fiddler Aly Bain dropping by for his dinner every Wednesday.

John was a legendary figure in the world of Edinburgh medicine, serving the people of Piershill for almost 40 years while also building up a reputation as a trustworthy friend to many in the world of the arts and sciences. His busy home in Morningside saw many prominent figures from different fields gather for informal suppers, sometimes as often as four times a week.

After 38 years in Piershill, he retired at the age of 64 as the senior partner in the practice.

Away from work, he had a great love for opera and reading, but it was his family of Annie and their two children, David and Irene, that was always most important.

Only two weeks from his death, and deeply aware of his very limited life expectancy, he amazed and worried his friends by announcing that he was to host one last party, for his 80th birthday.

He held court at the centre of the occasion welcoming his guests with his customary relaxed kindness and interest in every aspect of their 

He died on December 21. He is survived by his wife Annie, his two children and two grandchildren. Henry and Rebecca.