Imperial College London

Imperial alumnus Sir Roger Bannister dies


Sir Roger Bannister

Sir Roger Bannister

Athlete, clinician and Imperial alumnus Sir Roger Bannister has died, aged 88.

According to news reports, a statement released by Sir Roger’s family said: “Sir Roger Bannister, died peacefully in Oxford on 3 March…surrounded by his family who were as loved by him as he was loved by them.”

Born in 1929 in Harrow, Sir Roger was renowned for being the first person to run one mile in under four minutes in 1954, starting athletics at the age of 17.

He studied medicine at the University of Oxford before attending St Mary’s Medical School, now part of Imperial College London, where a lecture theatre at the campus named in his honour was opened in 2004.

A plaque at Paddington commemorates Sir Roger's sporting background whilst at St Mary's Medical School  Sir Roger retired from athletics in 1954 to pursue his medical career, going on to become a leading consultant neurologist at St Mary’s Hospital and the Western Ophthalmic Hospital from 1963 to 1985.

He received a knighthood in 1975 and revealed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in 2014.

Professor Jonathan Weber, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, said: "I first met Roger in 1982, when I first arrived at St Mary’s as a registrar, learning to manage the first AIDS patients being admitted to Almroth-Wright ward.

"Many of our early patients had unusual neurological presentations, and Roger was fascinated by this new disease and extra-ordinarily helpful and approachable to a very junior colleague.

The portrait of Sir Roger at St Mary's
The portrait of Sir Roger at St Mary's

"He left St Mary’s in 1985 to take up the Master of Pembroke College Oxford, but never dropped his close association with St Mary’s. He chaired the St Mary’s Development Trust from 1993-2004, contributing greatly to the refurbishment of the St Mary’s Medical School building following the creation of the Imperial College School of Medicine in 1997. 

"The culmination of this refurbishment, in 2004, was to invite Roger to open the new Roger Bannister Lecture Theatre, embellished by a portrait, the photograph of his record-breaking mile and, in its own secure cabinet, one of the stop-watches used in this most iconic event.

"As a Faculty, we mourn this towering figure of 20th century sport and medicine, and celebrate his lifetime of commitment to St Mary’s." 

Read Sir Roger's  full obituary online.

Images: Wikicommons / Pruneau; Chrisdorney /; Jack Stewart


Ryan O'Hare

Ryan O'Hare
Communications Division

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