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Genius allergy expert who worked with Fleming on Penicillin turns 107

PUBLISHED: 17:41 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:32 20 March 2019

From left: Master of the Charterhouse Ann Kendrick; Deputy Lord Lietenant of Islington Charles Goodson-Wickes; (seated) Dr William Frankland MBE; and his daughters' Hilary and Jenny. Picture: The Charterhouse

From left: Master of the Charterhouse Ann Kendrick; Deputy Lord Lietenant of Islington Charles Goodson-Wickes; (seated) Dr William Frankland MBE; and his daughters' Hilary and Jenny. Picture: The Charterhouse

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A veteran and genius allergy expert who now lives in the Charterhouse is celebrating his 107 birthday today - between meetings.

Dr William “A veteran and genius allergy expert who now lives in the Charterhouse celebrated his 107th birthday on Tuesday – between meetings.

Dr William “Bill” Frankland MBE’s distinguished career includes aiding Alexander Fleming’s penicillin research; exposing himself to tropical bug bites to better our understanding of desensitisation to allergens; and, perhaps most significantly, popularising the pollen count so people can see how weather changes affect their allergies.

Dr Frankland was interned by the Japanese in Singapore during the Second World War, where he was stabbed in the gut with a bayonet – and he recently published an autobiography.

The Gazette managed to catch the centenarian between meetings, asking how he felt on his birthday.

“I feel 107,” he said. “I can’t stop working. I’m working on two papers right now.

“There are not many doctors [his age] who are still working, who have not retired. I’m a bit peculiar, you see.”

And with that, he dived back into a meeting, telling this paper he was already “pulled two ways” with other commitments and hadn’t the time for a third.

Among the tenacious doctor’s less lauded accomplishments is his treatment of the former Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein.

Dr Frankland has previously spoken of how he was called to treat a VIP patient in Baghdad, only to find himself face-to-face with the ruthless dictator.

Hussein thought he had asthma, and the doctor is said to have told his breathing difficulties were instead a by-product of his 40-a-day smoking addiction.

The Oxford Uni alumnus later quipped: “I said to him: ‘I treat you as a patient, not head of state. I treat you in the same way as I might treat a man, a beggar or someone else.’ That was a silly thing to say.”

Hussein is said to have stopped smoking after the exchange, and Dr Frankland reportedly regrets giving the advice.

Deputy Lieutenant Charles Goodson-Wickes on Tuesday told Dr Frankland he had “served humanity well” before presenting him with a handwritten birthday card from the Queen,

The doctor retired from his post at St Mary’s Hospital aged 65, before taking up an unpaid consultancy post in the department of medicine at Guy’s Hospital. He now lives at the infirmary care centre at the historic complex in the south of the borough.

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