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John Wicliffe Peck was a pharmacist, bacteriologist, and longtime member of the West London Ethical Society – one of the founding groups of the Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK). In 1912, Peck – then lead dispenser at Great Ormond Street Hospital – invented the first fireproof orthopaedic splints for children: a major breakthrough at a time when many children suffered from bone malformations, and coal fires were ubiquitous. Peck spent 40 years at Great Ormond Street, developing their first radiological department, microbiology laboratory, and splint shop. His inventiveness and ingenuity are a reminder of those qualities which can facilitate human progress and lead to medical breakthroughs, using science and observation to meet human needs.

Images: Great Ormond Street Hospital Archive. With thanks to Nick Baldwin, archivist.

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