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Bob Tapper

Bob Tapper, chair of the Science Committee has died

Robert (Bob) Lewis Tapper ASIS FRPS

Bob Tapper, 67, a member of the RPS since 1979, died on 30 December having lost his battle against cancer.

I got to know Bob on being appointed Deputy Chair of the RPS Medical Group in 2012. Bob, awarded ASIS FRPS in 2013, had been an ordinary member of the Medical Group committee since 1985 and held various posts within the Group, such as archivist and exhibition convener, before being appointed Honorary Secretary in 1994, a post he held until the time of his passing.

Sitting with Bob on various RPS committees brought us together and our friendship flourished. As well as Chair of the Science Committee, Bob sat on the Representatives Committee (RepCom), Awards Committee and the Combined Royal Colleges Medal Awards Committee. He was also a member of the Imaging Scientist Qualifications Board and editorial board of the Imaging Science Journal and convenor of the ‘Ophthalmic OCT Imaging 2017’ symposium. Hence, Bob leaves behind a massive gap which will be very difficult to fill.

Bob’s professional career began after training at the University Hospital of Wales as a student medical photographer under Professor Ralph Marshall Hon FRPS from 1976. He moved to London in 1979 and was employed at St. James’s Hospital where he worked on a research project involving the documentation of muscle attachment to the neonatal skull.

In 1981 Bob moved to Moorfield Eye Hospital as a Professorial Unit Photographer before moving to Greenwich District Hospital in 1983 where he helped establish one of the country’s first photographic diabetic retinal screening programmes.

In 1989 he moved to The Royal London Hospital as deputy head of department and established the first ophthalmic imaging service for the hospital. In 2008 Bob was appointed head of the department.

The merger of The Royal London Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2001 saw him running St Bartholomew’s Medical Illustration department and establishing a service to the national ocular oncology unit (2004). During this time, he also coordinated research projects involving ophthalmic imaging. Following his retirement in November 2018, Bob returned to work three days a week in January 2019.

Outside work Bob was a passionate food connoisseur who would occasionally board a Eurostar to Paris simply to enjoy his favourite French cuisine before returning home the very same day.  As close friends I used to joke with him. ‘Bob, you live to eat, while I eat to live’.

Bob will be sorely missed and fondly remember by his family, friends, colleagues and many within the RPS community and beyond. I, personally, have lost a dear friend.

Bob is survived by his beloved wife Maureen (Mo) to whom the RPS and the Medical Group extend their sincere condolences.

Professor Afzal Ansary ASIS FRPS
Chair, Medical Group

A version of this obituary appeared in the RPS Journal, March-April 2021, p. 206.