A tribute to Dr. Desmond Thomas Pim

Dr. Desmond Pim was born on Feb. 28, 1927 and passed away Nov. 20, 2018. The three photos show Dr. Pim at various stages in his life from a young boy to a retired doctor.

Editor’s note: From 1958-64, Dr. Desmond Pim began to practice chiropractic in High Prairie. He stayed for six years. Below is his story.

Many knew Desmond as a man before his time. He had an enquiring mind unconstrained by tradition and opinion, and even when his chosen path was difficult and challenging, giving up was never an option.

Desmond’s father, Sir Richard Pike Pim, was born in 1900 in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. His mother, Marjory Angel Young, was born in 1906 in Dungiven and provided a stable and traditional background. His father was appointed by Sir Winston Churchill at the outbreak of war in 1939, to head the Map Room at the Cabinet War Rooms at No. 10 Downing Street. This was a position he held until the end of the war in May 1945.

In July 1945, he was appointed Inspector General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. His mother, Marjory, was president of the Ulster Society for the Protection of Cruelty for Animals.

Desmond was the first of two sons, born in Belfast, where he spent his early childhood that included many enjoyable years sailing. At the young age of seven, he contracted the life threatening disease, tuberculosis, for which there was no known cure. His Great Aunt Nora, however, saw it differently, paid for him to go to the high-altitude sanatorium in Leysin, Switzerland where he was treated by the life-saving Heliotherapy treatment from which he made a full recovery. The experience left a lasting impression on him that helped generate an inquisitive interest in the relationship of diseases and natural healing.

Desmond attended Canford School in Dorset. His natural questioning of authority and rebellious nature soon caused issue for those who tried to plan his future.

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” [Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-82]

This timeless quote, put so well, was one that Desmond lived by, both in his personal and professional life. It was perhaps owing to this continuous searching and independent spirit, that this character trait was so fundamental in leading him to his chosen vocation.

Desmond enrolled into the Merchant Navy at the age of 17 to serve his country during the Second World War. He joined the Headline shipping company of Northern Ireland, which transported vital war supplies across the Atlantic Ocean during the war. Here he saw U-boat action whilst on convoy duty, traveling from the United Kingdom to North Africa, the Far East, South America, the United States and Canada.

Following the war, Desmond worked at several different jobs, including on flying boats for British Overseas Airways Corporation, which later became British Airways, from England to Lake Victoria [Rhodesia] and Cairo, Egypt.

He also had posting in India and Ceylon, before he then decided to emigrate to Canada due to having spent time there, while in the Navy. His first job after landing in Toronto was to work for the Timothy Eaton Company, which was owned by a man from Belfast. He also passed a chauffeur’s license, with which he delivered cars across the country.

Later, he worked for North West Airlines in Edmonton. About this time his backache became worse and having had to wear a steel brace at sea and experiencing migraines, a friend recommended he see a chiropractor. This experience was a pivotal moment for him. After gaining such relief and improvement to his health he drove over 2,000 miles to Davenport, Iowa, and enrolled in the class of 1953 at Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Desmond had the privilege to study under B.J. Palmer, a legend and pioneer in chiropractic. Palmer inspired Desmond, leading him into a long and successful career in natural health. He took to heart his teachings and often quoted from him such as, “While other professions are concerned with changing the environment to suit the weakened body, chiropractic is concerned with strengthening the body to suit the environment.”

And in the words of Emerson, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Desmond’s new approach to healthcare displayed this without wavering. To help pay for his education he worked several jobs including the evening and night shifts at the Clear View Sanatorium Mental Hospital.

On graduating, Desmond moved from Edmonton to High Prairie, 770 miles south of the Artic Circle, after hearing there was a practice for sale that saved the three years it would have taken him to create his own practice due to a lack of finances. Desmond built a successful practice over six years. On one occasion a patient took 10 hours travelling with a team of horses to be treated by him.

Following his marriage to Yvette [whose mother was from Trondheim, Norway] in 1957, the two eldest of his five children were born: Richard and Moyra. In 1964 the family then moved to Reading, England, where Jonathan, Michael and Fiona where born.

Desmond’s continuous quest for study, knowledge and the cause of disease resulted in further learning and qualifications in Osteopathy, Naturopathy, Herbalism, and Acupuncture. He was instrumental in 1964, in founding the first Chiropractic University in Europe, located in Bournemouth, U.K., which later became known as the Anglo European College of Chiropractic. He provided much-needed advice and financial resources in the crucial early stages, giving a percentage of his income each week to help get it started.

His legacy is poignant, as one of his grandchildren is currently studying Chiropractic at AECC.

Richard, Michael and Fiona followed in Desmond’s footsteps, attending Palmer to study Chiropractic. Moyra also followed in her father’s footsteps and pursued a career in health care by gaining qualifications in nursing at Portsmouth University and graduating as an Osteopath and Naturopath in London.

Jonathan gained a degree in music from Bournemouth University.

Desmond’s thirst for knowledge and his ability to inspire others highlights just a fraction of what he gave the world and the lasting effects upon others and those in the Chiropractic, Osteopathic and natural heath care community. This is encompassed in the words of Thomas Paine: “The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”

Desmond’s interests were almost limitless in their range and depth, from the mysteries of the planets to the builders of the pyramids. Over his long life he became familiar with many great individuals who lived in centuries before. These ranged from the writings of second century AD Philosopher Marcus Aurelius to Thomas Paine who inspired both the American and French revolutions for freedom from tyranny.

During Desmond’s 47 years of continuous practice in Reading, Berkshire, he developed one of the largest chiropractic and natural health practices in the country. He was one of only 50 chiropractors in the U.K. at the time he started in 1964, and did much to spread the benefits of chiropractic and natural health in Berkshire and beyond.

Desmond lived by the philosophy of Chiropractic, Osteopathic and Naturopathic principles. He brought his family up on organic food and a meat-free diet. He made his own herbal medicines, mostly from herbs grown by his wife, Yvette, an avid gardener. He was passionate about healing the body from the inside. He was well-respected in the community and had good relationships with the local consultants and general practitioners who often referred patients to him.

Desmond’s multifaceted approach to treating a patient’s particular condition reflected the concept that a patient’s ill health frequently had more than one cause. Often, his treatment included the orthomolecular philosophy of health, through maintaining a balanced diet of organic based food with nutritional supplements.

His keen interest in nutrition brought him into contact with the writings of Sir Robert McCarrison, a pioneer in nutritional research in the early 1900s.

Desmond was actively involved in many organizations such as; the Soil Association, an internationally recognized standard of organic farming; The National Pure Water Association, of which he became chairman and was active in preventing mass fluoridation of drinking water; and the Price Pottenger Foundation, which studies the effects of food and nutrition and its relationship with diseases and the positive effects of a raw diet on overall health.

A former colleague who worked with Desmond for many years commented, “Desmond was just one amazing practitioner and mentor. It is difficult to put into words but he had the ability of stepping into the consulting room and the patient felt immediately better. They always left the Pim Clinic with a smile and positive feeling, 90 per cent of the time.”

Desmond was dedicated to his life’s work every waking moment to the extent that family members remember even Christmas Day was largely spent studying and making herbal plasters for his patients, which everyone was expected to join in!

As a child, Desmond loved to sail with his family from Ireland to the west coast of Scotland. Therefore, when he had his children, he enjoyed spending his summer holidays taking them sailing amongst the many islands of Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.

In 2010, aged 83, he reluctantly retired but continued to treat his family to the very end. He moved with his wife to British Columbia, where he joined Moyra and Jonathan on their beautiful lakefront property.

At the time of his retirement he was the oldest practicing Chiropractor and Osteopath in the U.K. Through his daily practice of over 50 years, he not only helped hundreds of thousands of patients improve their physical health, but also in many cases gave a philosophy of life. He wanted never to turn a sick patient away, if he felt he could help them in their hour of need.

The new owners of the former clinic on Kendrick Road wanted to maintain the historical link to Desmond by naming the site ‘Pim Court’, thus ensuring the name will live on in Reading for many years.

Desmond’s last few years were spent on his beautiful lakefront property in Naramata with Yvette overlooking the constantly moving waters of the Okanagan Lake. Once in the Okanagan, Desmond and Yvette both took a great interest in the horticulture, agriculture and land management of their new property. Together they learned everything from the health of the soil to the production of the harvest. In doing so, they assisted Moyra and Jonathan with the maintenance and harvest of many fruits and vegetables, including wine making. This gave them the opportunity to apply, first hand, the foundation of the health principles that they believed in.

During these final years he drew together the many strands of his long life in the form of a book, so that those of us who follow may also benefit from the wisdom gained through the rich experiences that defined his life. Desmond spent his life continuously studying and reading. “Not wasting time” he frequently stated “So much to do and so little time” was often heard. His extensive library was not wasted as he spent hours at a time enjoying getting lost in the words of those who traveled before him, often deep into the night.

“The true university of life is a collection of books.” [Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881]

If this was true, then Desmond had an education to be proud of, and was all the richer for it. Although to conclude such a life in so few words and to do it justice is a formidable task, it is accurate to say that Desmond’s character was moulded and shaped to challenge the tide of conventional wisdom of the time.

As his life progressed he gained knowledge in his chosen destiny and life’s work of helping patients and all those he came into contact with, to lead a more meaningful life.

Desmond, in his life often quoted, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

During his long life Desmond gave hope when the future had no clear path and inspiration in times of need. He will be remembered far into the future as someone who left this world a better place than when he entered.

He is survived by: his wife, Yvette; five children, Richard, Moyra, Jonathan, Michael, and Fiona; and six grandchildren.