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Professor Peter Froggatt, who guided Queen's through austerity and the Troubles, dies aged 91


Respected: Sir Peter Froggatt

Respected: Sir Peter Froggatt

Respected: Sir Peter Froggatt

Sir Peter Froggatt, who has died, was President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University from 1976 to 1986. He was 91.

He was born on June 12, 1928 in Glasgow, the son of Albert Victor Froggatt and Edith Curran, and the family moved to Northern Ireland soon afterwards.

Educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, he was evacuated during the Second World War and became a pupil and boarder at the Royal School Armagh. He won a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin where he read medicine.

He initially practised as a doctor at Shorts in Belfast, but later opted for an academic career.

Sir Peter eventually became Professor of Epidemiology at Queen's and was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1968 to 1976, before taking up the post of Vice-Chancellor.

He wrote lucidly on epidemiology and a wide range of other subjects including social history, and was an accomplished and witty after-dinner speaker.

An outstanding golfer, he was a member of Belvoir Golf Club who played as an amateur for Ireland and for Ulster.

Sir Peter was also a member and elder of Elmwood Presbyterian Church until its closure in the Seventies and the family then attended McCracken Memorial, where Sir Peter sang in the choir.

His tenure at Queen's as Vice-Chancellor coincided with a period of financial austerity because of government university cutbacks and he also had to contend with the extreme pressure of the Troubles. He faced all these challenges with fortitude, dedication and good humour.

Denis Wilson, a former Administrative Secretary at Queen's, said: "Sir Peter was a very gifted man and in fact a polymath. He was diligent and hard-working. He was good to work for, and had a listening ear. You always came away from a meeting with him having learned something new. He also had to deal with budgets at a time of austerity while keeping up the high standards of the university. He was always approachable and well-liked."

Professor Leslie Clarkson, a former Queen's pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Economics, said: "Peter was a very good historian and kind and helpful as a colleague.

"He was a gentleman and a scholar, and probably the last true scholar Vice-Chancellor that Queen's has had."

Sir Peter's son Ian said: "My father had a very demanding job which kept him very busy.

"However, he was a very good father to us all. He was patient, balanced and a great provider for all of us. I remember him inviting me to join him on a tour in Texas where he had several speaking engagements. We drove from Houston to New Orleans and back, and that was very special. I was very proud to be his son."

Sir Peter is survived by his widow Norma, his sons Mark, Richard, Ian and Keith and by six grandsons. He was predeceased by a son Bruce who died shortly after birth.

Due to the current restrictions his funeral will be private. A thanksgiving service will be arranged in due course.

Belfast Telegraph