OBITUARY: Founder of Huntingdonshire charity Magpas Dr Derek Cracknell MBE

16:00 17 August 2014

Magpas Helimedix

Magpas Helimedix


One of the co-founders of Huntingdonshire emergency charity Magpas, and an instrumental figure in the opening of Hinching-brooke Hospital has died.

Derek Cracknell MBE, 87, who along with Dr Neville Silverston, started Magpas as a voluntary out-of-hours service in 1971. It evolved into a scheme where more than 200 GPs would attend emergencies across the region and now consists of specially-trained volunteer medics who use a helicopter to fly to incidents.

Dr Cracknell moved to Hartford Road, Huntingdon, in 1959, and played a key role in securing the opening of Hinchingbrooke 30 years ago.

He was born in Islington on April 12, 1927, and trained at St Bart’s, London, where he qualified in 1951. Dr Cracknell joined medical branch of the RAF from 1953-57 and was posted at Wyton.

In 1959, he joined the doctors’ surgery at 84 High Street, Huntingdon, and helped it move to the other side of the ring road, where it is now known as Priory Fields Surgery.

He was awarded an MBE in the Birthday Honours in 1984 and was presented his award by the Queen in Buckingham Palace.

Dr Cracknell retired as a GP in 1997, aged 70, but continued to be a doctor for Silent Channel and Stewart and Lloyds Plastics until 18 months ago.

He died from pneumonia on August 1 at Cromwell House Care Home, just doors away from where he used to work.

Janet Evans, his daughter, said: “He was a registered doctor until the day he died. Medicine was his life and he liked to talk to people. He would give anyone the time they needed.”

Alison McCreery, his other daughter, added: “The practice was the first to have radio telephones in their cars. It was back in the day when there weren’t mobile phones. It enabled the surgery to keep in contact with the doctors when they were out on home visits if there was an emergency.”

Mrs Evans told The Hunts Post: “He would come home after work and then go out for home visits, he wouldn’t get back until 11 or 12 at night so we didn’t see him much. We did, though, go for amazing holidays each year, for a month at a time. He also loved gardening. He must have fed Huntingdon with tomatoes and cucumbers.

“My dad was very proud of his MBE and to be given it by the Queen made it more special for him.”

Mrs McCreery added: “He was immensely proud of what he had achieved with Magpas and the hospital. My daughter is a nurse there and there are still people there who remember my dad and tell her nice things about him.”

Daryl Brown. Magpas CEO, said: “It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Dr Cracknell who was instrumental in establishing Magpas. He spoke of his proud and long association with the charity. His input and incredible dedication to Magpas has helped save countless lives. He will be sadly missed.”

Dr Cracknell leaves behind wife Mavis, 85, sons Ian, Stuart and Neil, daughters Janet Evans, Alison McCreery; 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at All Saints Church, Hartford, at 11am on August 19. No flowers but donations to Magpas, through Peacocks Funeral Directors, Castle Hill Lodge, Castle Moat Road, Huntingdon, PE29 3PG.


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