A leading medical scientist is retiring this month after 45 years of dedicated service at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. Philip Parker began his long career in 1965 when a sudden change in family circumstances forced him to give up a place a

A leading medical scientist is retiring this month after 45 years of dedicated service at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Philip Parker began his long career in 1965 when a sudden change in family circumstances forced him to give up a place at a prestigious college to support his family.

As a promising young chemist, he started work as a student biomedical scientist in the pathology laboratory of what was then the North Devon Infirmary, analysing tissue and other samples from patients.

"In those days tests were performed in glass tubes with Bunsen burners and other scientific paraphernalia. It looked like Frankenstein's laboratory!" he said.

"Back then, we used to deal with about 500 tests a day. Nowadays, in the hospital's biochemistry lab alone, we analyse between 8,000-10,000 per day! It's an absolutely enormous task - public expectations are very high these days - and that's no bad thing."

As Head Biomedical Scientist for Biochemistry at Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, Philip has developed the service in line with the fast pace of technological change.

As well as a continuing thirst for knowledge, Philip developed a particular expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, introducing and developing many new techniques. "I shall very much miss helping my North Devon myeloma patients, with whom I feel a great affinity," her added.