Peter Truesdale qualified as a doctor at the University of Leeds in 1955 and joined the Royal Navy in May 1956. After his initial training at the Royal Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, he was appointed as the Medical Officer to the Fifth Frigate Squadron, serving in the Mediterranean and Home Fleets, including the short Suez campaign and Cyprus patrols.
In 1958, he was appointed as Deputy to the Senior Medical Officer of the Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, and in 1959 to HMS Ark Royal, to complete his qualification as a specialist in Aviation Medicine.
In 1962, Dr Truesdale qualified with a Diploma in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, specialising in Occupational Medicine. Apart from two further sea appointments – 1963-65 in HMS London, which included a world tour, and in 1968-69 HMS Forth, the Submarine Depot Ship based in Singapore – the rest of his career was to be as the Senior Medical Officer and Factory Doctor at a succession of Royal Naval bases and dockyards.
In 1970, Dr Truesdale returned to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for his Diploma in Industrial Health and Specialist in Hygiene. In 1978, he was appointed as Consultant in Occupational Medicine for the Royal Navy. He was a member of the Society of Occupational Medicine and sometime committee member in Scotland, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. In 1990 he was appointed as an Honorary Physician to the Queen.
After his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1991, Dr Truesdale served for the next ten years as Medical Officer at the now privatised Devonport Dockyard, and as consultant to Plymouth City Council. In 1980, he had bought a small cottage on the edge of Dartmoor, which would be his home for the rest of his life. He was a life-long motor-cycle racing enthusiast and a long-term supporter of the National Trust, serving for many years on the committee of the West Devon branch, to which, together with his alma mater and many other charities, he was a very generous supporter.
Dr Truesdale loved the sea and his legacy to Sidmouth Lifeboat in 2017 was a substantial bequest, the Peter Truesdale Equipment Fund. This is a restricted fund and was given specifically for the replacement of the Arctic 24, including all equipment. This fund will continue to support our organisation for years to come.
The Arctic 24 is named “Peter and Barbara Truesdale”, named after Peter and his sister. Since the initial legacy, Barbara Gates, nee Truesdale, has been a great support to our volunteers and was keen to ensure a social event was paid for as a way of thanks to the volunteers for their time and efforts within the organisation. In 2021 Barbara passed away and we were honoured and humbled to hear she had left a legacy to Sidmouth Lifeboat too. She generously donated to a new restricted fund called the ‘Barbara Gates Volunteer Appreciation Fund’, ensuring the volunteers can have a social get together once a year and a substantial legacy from Barbara was added to the Peter Truesdale Equipment Fund.
The generosity of Peter and Barbara have ensured the future of our organisation, we are eternally grateful.