Over many years at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge Burke recorded the growth changes in the faces of more than 50 children. He was able not only to establish the natural history of facial growth but also to indicate appropriate timings for orthodontic and surgical intervention in facial and dental deformity. The method could also be applied to assessing changes in the face following surgery and monitoring the effects of medical treatment of bone diseases.
From Whitley Bay Grammar School Burke qualified in dentistry at Durham University and then served five years in the Army, three of them with a field ambulance in north-west Europe. He became a consultant in orthodontics at the Newcastle on Tyne Dental School in 1951 and worked there for 11 years. He then moved to a similar appointment at Addenbrooke's, where he developed a first-class regional service.
In 1972 Burke was called to the Chair of Child Dental Health at Sheffield. He was by now a first-class clinician. He had the flexibility and vision to amalgamate all the elements of dentistry for children into a coherent teaching whole, and was instrumental in creating a beautiful clinical environment which expressed this vision. It gave much pleasure to child and parent alike. The biostatistical work flourished and Burke's department became a national and international example.
Peter Burke was a big handsome man, who never lost that unequivocal directness of his Geordie background. In his earlier days he delighted in fell-walking, skiing, mountaineering and rock climbing. He was a splendidly stalwart colleague - the sort of man you would trust to lead a difficult pitch. His rich sense of humour, geniality and concern for others were in contrast to periods of deep sadness and disappointment in his private life.
Peter Halliburton Burke, orthodontist: born 4 September 1920; orthodontic consultant, Newcastle on Tyne Teaching Hospitals 1951-62, East Anglian Regional Hospital Board 1962-72; Professor of Child Dental Health, Sheffield University, 1972-85 (Emeritus); twice married (two daughters); died Sheffield 28 November 1995.