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Peter Howson 1951-1982


Peter Howson
Peter Howson accepts a cheque from Auxiliaries president Alma Pederson during the Centenary fundraising appeal 1968

Peter Howson was born in London, England in 1919 and was educated at Cambridge University, later serving as a pilot during World War II.

Peter joined the Eye and Ear hospital's Committee of Management in 1951, becoming Committee President in 1956. Peter would prove an incredibly important and influential figure in the hospital's development. Soon after his appointment, in 1953, Howson travelled to eye and ear hospitals in the US and Britain and came back full of ideas for how to transform the Eye and Ear into the preeminent specialist hospital in Victoria and Australia.

He pushed for a greater focus on research and teaching within the hospital, through aligning with relevant partners and bodies. In particular he was a strong advocate for early screening and detection for infant deafness, the development of speech therapy within the hospital and the improvement in the role of nurses, including a transition to living outside the hospital as was already being implemented overseas.

Peter Howson played a key role in seeking royal patronage for the hospital and in 1963 the Queen granted her permission for the hospital to be known as the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

He was committed to fundraising growth and established endowments for research, including the Peter Howson Deafness Fellowship, clinical practice and major capital works. In 1967, Peter helped to establish the Australia’s only Otolaryngology Chair, the William Gibson Chair with the University of Melbourne. The Chair was first awarded to Professor Graeme Clark, creator of the world’s first bionic ear.

In 1974, the new wing of the hospital that Peter had been instrumental in obtaining funding for was named in his honour.

Peter resigned as Committee of Management President in 1964 and became Board Chair from 1980 to 1982.