Ralph Derek White (1947–2023)

On 1 October 2023, Ralph Derek White, aged 76 years, of London. Mr White registered with the Society in 1974.


Those of us who knew Ralph were not only saddened but shocked to hear that he had died on 1 October, just seven weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was only this July that we met at the UCL School of Pharmacy for a belated ‘Class of 1970’ 50th graduation reunion, when Ralph was in his usual good form, joining others in the pub that evening for a drink and a meal. His old university friends remember him with great affection as such a nice, kind, quietly-spoken man, always in the mix when it came to organising social activities at the school; a gentleman in every sense of the word. Thank goodness we had a chance to catch up with him one last time at our reunion.

After his schooldays at St Mary’s Balham Junior School and then Bec Grammar school in Tooting Bec, Ralph went on to the School of Pharmacy, University of London (the Square), to study pharmaceutical sciences. Brendan Whittle remembers meeting Ralph on their first day when signing on for the course. As their surnames started with W they worked next to each other in the labs throughout the three-year course, becoming good friends from that day onwards. They were each other’s best man at their weddings and continued to meet regularly over the years.

After completing his first degree, Ralph stayed on at the Square to do a PhD with Professor Mike Neal. He also worked for a short time at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, before joining the Wellcome Research Laboratories in 1976, where he worked primarily on potential treatments for sickle cell disease. He later moved into project planning of new medicines. Wellcome subsequently merged with Glaxo, but when it became GSK, the long journey to work around the M25 was arduous and Ralph decided in 2002 to form a very small, but sought-after, consulting company, PPMLD. He worked with his colleague, John Faulkes, to train and instruct leading pharma companies using his well-developed expertise in project management. He was still very busy with this work until his untimely death.

Ralph was also a very active member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) South East Metropolitan Branch. He had held most of the branch offices and, for very many years, was a splendid branch secretary. An excellent communicator and a practical and diligent organiser of meetings, he was good at getting people to work together. When the branch merged with the South West Metropolitan Branch, and with subsequent reorganisations of the RPS at local level, Ralph took on the challenge of making the new arrangements work — and succeeded. He was quite irreplaceable.

Ralph was always very much a family man and they must be overwhelmed by their sudden loss. Our thoughts are with his wife, Julia, and their children, Edward, Sophie and Harriet.

Rest in peace dear friend.

Jennifer Boncey, Brendan Whittle and Heather Elliston

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2023, Vol 311, No 7978;311(7978)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.198113


  • Alan Smith

    I was greatly saddened by this news and the sad loss of another member of the Square's Class of 70. Ralph was such a gentleman even in his youth - one of the genuine 'good guys'. RIP.

  • Samantha Buckland

    Dear Ralph! I only saw you a few months back and you were full of health and fun. Shocked to hear about you passing. Have fond memories serving with you at RPS branch and you being one of my best attendees at local CPPE events. You were so supportive for which I'll be forever grateful. You will be very much missed. Bless you my friend.
    Sam xx


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