Dr Michael Coupland: Broadland doctor was superb GP

A long-serving Broadland GP, Dr Michael Coupland, who has died peacefully aged 85, pressed for better health care for patients in country areas.

When a new �120,000 health centre was opened at Acle in December 1976 by Sir Arthur South, he described it as having the facilities 'to deal with everything from the cradle to the grave'.

After moving to Reedham in 1953 from Sussex, he joined a small practice. In those days, prescribed drugs were left for patients to be collected from a tin box in the blacksmith's shop in Freethorpe. In 1962, he became a partner in the Acle practice and the family home was also a surgery for the next 14 years until a purpose-built centre was opened in Bridewell Lane.

A new complex for the four doctors in the practice had been proposed in 1971 and the land was acquired from Acle Parish Council a year later. However, building work did not start until 1975.

Dr Coupland, who was typically dressed as a country doctor wearing a Norfolk jacket, was highly regarded by patients and professional colleagues especially for his accurate diagnosis and his dedication. As he had a bad back, he drove a Renault 4L, which was probably the only car with a suspension strong enough to withstand the testing marsh roads and tracks on visits to remote patients.

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Born in Croydon in October 1925, he was sent to boarding school when he was just four years old. Later, he went to school at Tunbridge Wells and studied medicine at Guy's Hospital, London.

With his first wife, Kirsteen, who was also a GP and died in 2004, they had three sons. Their youngest, Robin, became a doctor and qualified as a surgeon working for the International Committee of the Red Cross specialising in trauma, usually in conflicts and war zones around the world. A retired Norwich consultant surgeon, Alan Green, said that Dr Coupland was 'a superb GP working from the practice house in Acle. He always seemed to be available to discuss problems'.

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When he was elected president of the Norwich Medico Chirurgical Society in the early 1980s, he delivered his acceptance address about another of his passions, Romanesque church architecture. It certainly surprised many of his fellow medical professionals that their president was a fan of medieval churches characterised by semi-circular arcs.

He also helped to train many GPs and then he retired from practice, aged 60, in 1985. He continued as a locum for a number of years. He married Anne about four years ago.

He is survived by an older brother, John, and younger sister, Janette. He leaves three sons, Garth, Bruce and Robin, and five grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at SS Peter & Paul, Lavenham, on Friday, August 5 at 2pm.

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