OBITUARY:Peggy Carter

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The Independent Online
Peggy Carter was a member of that group of redoubtable women born at the turn of the century who by their independence of spirit gave intimations of the emancipation which was to come about later. Her pioneering work in the establishment of speech therapy as an effective treatment for language disorders led to her being the first person to receive Honours of the Profession from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, in 1978.

Born into a comfortable, middle-class family (her father was an eminent printer), Peggy Carter was the only girl among a family of five children. Thus, with loving brothers and a settled way of life, she might well have remained at home until marriage and a subsequent family would claim her. Instead she ventured forth, first into the theatre, and then, attracted by the plight of those with language difficulties, she turned in the Thirties to speech therapy. The profession was in its early stages of development and aspiring speech therapists had to rely to a great extent on their own private study.

In the early Forties, Carter held clinical appointments at the Mildmay Hospital, in east London, and at the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, also in London (now closed), where she treated a wide range of adults and children with language disorders. Her methods of treatment tended towards a psychological approach, with an especial interest in Jung.

Her main interest lay in the problems of stammerers and the thesis which led to the award of a Fellowship of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in 1944 centred on this subject. At the same time she took an active part in the development of the profession as a whole - serving as Chairman of the College from 1963 to 1965, a time of great activity during which plans for the first university degree-based course were being considered - and continued to practise for several years afterwards until retiring in her sixties.

But matters of speech therapy were only one facet of Peggy Carter's interests. Other passions were gardens and, above all, the fine arts. This was apparent when visiting her house, where she was surrounded by beautiful pictures and furniture. On one occasion she spotted a dilapidated sofa in a second- hand shop. Taken by it, she paid pounds 5 and then the same again to have it delivered. Instinctively she felt there was something special about it and this was confirmed by Sotheby's who identified it as being probably the very one on which Madame Recamier had reclined when being painted by Jacques-Louis David. It was later bought by a Paris museum.

Her garden was a source of unfailing pleasure for her to the last. It was a place of great beauty and tranquillity and each year it was opened to the public. She celebrated her 90th birthday by having floodlighting installed so that her many friends attending the party could enjoy the scene as darkness fell.

Margaret Edwards

Margaret (Peggy) Carter, speech therapist: born Sanderstead June 1901; died London 17 September 1995.

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