Dr Roger Shapley, greatly loved, valued and respected Banbury GP and talented artist has died, aged 82

Roger Shapley, much loved Banbury doctor and talented artist who has died aged 82, enhanced the lives of many - his patients, colleagues, the doctors he trained and the artists and communities he supported.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:06 am
Dr Roger Shapley, Banbury GP from 1976 - 2000, and talented artist, who has died

Dr Shapley was a GP at West Bar Surgery, Banbury from 1976 until his retirement in 2000.

Born in 1938 in Ealing, Roger Shapley was the eldest of three children. After a term at Edinburgh studying French, he moved to Hornsey College of Art for 18 months. He gave this up to work as a lab technician at Harefield Hospital where he met Gill Rogers, a physiotherapist and his future wife. He retrained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital, qualifying in 1972.

Dr Shapley went on to complete further attachments, training in renal medicine and psychiatry before joining West Bar Surgery as a GP in 1976.

One of Roger Shapley's landscapes - a scene from the countryside near his North Newington home

His work as a family doctor gave Dr Shapley a deep understanding of people’s needs and he went out of his way to help meet them. These ranged from checking on the welfare of children in care to organising defibrillators for the ambulance service, for whom he was a dedicated fundraiser.

His caring nature endeared him to colleagues and to the many GPs on training placements at West Bar Surgery. He worked at Katharine House Hospice, helping patients enjoy creative art. His paintings still hang in the corridors.

Dr Shapley was committed to working to help the disadvantaged and had a strong understanding of medical ethics. He continued this commitment into retirement giving talks to explain the importance and the workings of the NHS and the impacts of proposed changes on the Horton General Hospital.

While still working full time he also managed to support the local community by chairing the governors of The Warriner School and the North Newington Parish Council.

Dr Roger Shapley at an exhibition of his work - including the portraits in pastels - in Oxford

Dr Shapley was chair of the Christabella Saye and Sele Trust in North Newington for many years, focusing on helping the village school, Bishop Carpenter CE Primary, and local residents. He oversaw the modernisation of the trust's role and secured its ownership of the school premises.

He contributed to expeditions in the Himalayas which included research into high-altitude medicine and, as doctor for Bloxham School, an educational trek across Norway before settling for running marathons, taking part in the the London Marathon and successfully completing the course.

Following his retirement in 2000 Dr Shapley returned to his early love, drawing and painting, gaining a degree in Fine Art from de Montfort University and then honing his skills in portrait, landscape and abstract painting - always in acrylic. He was also involved in print-making at Banbury School of Art.

Many of Roger Shapley's works had a socio-political element. One recent example was a recent series of 60 pastel portraits made in response to the recent outbreak of racism and police shootings in the USA. He exhibited widely at venues from local galleries to the Royal College of Physicians in London. Following his usual pattern, he contributed in the sphere of art exhibitions, helping in the management of The Heseltine Gallery, Banbury Print Making and the Deddington Life Class.

Dr Roger Shapley died in Katharine House Hospice on Friday,July 23

He painted many landscapes, especially of scenes around his home in North Newington.

In an interview with The Heseltine Gallery he said: "I think it was the self expressive quality that was the most powerful attraction and I’ve had to struggle with the technical aspects progressively. Balancing the self-expression with the need to be able to draw was important for me. I took up art in the sixth form at college and though it was never considered academic enough to be serious it became for me not just academic but the fullest means of self-expression that I knew."

Dr Shapley is survived by his wife Gill, children Jonathan, Helen, and Mandy and five grandchildren. His funeral will be a private occasion. Donations for Katharine House Hospice may be made through Humphris Funeral Directors on 01295 265424.