Lives of the fellows

Joan Angus

b.30 March 1924 d.17 August 1985
MB ChB Glasg(1947) MRCP(1953) FRCP(1974)

Joan Angus was born and bred in Glasgow, her father Lawrence Angus a business man, her mother Agnes a nurse. She was educated at Glasgow High School for Girls and then studied medicine at the Western Infirmary. Following tradition she moved southwards after qualifying and. since she had early made up her mind that she wanted to be a paediatrican, after a variety of appointments in Birmingham and London she obtained her MRCP and was appointed house physician to Sir Wilfrid Sheldon [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII,p.531] at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street. Further paediatric appointments followed at the Central Middlesex Hospital and the Sorrento Maternity Hospital and then, quite on impulse, she decided to take a sabbatical and set out with three friends in a small boat, planning to sail through the Mediterranean and down the east coast of Africa. Alas, the Suez crisis prevented their passage through the Canal so they turned back and spent several months in Malta where Joan worked in the professorial unit at St Luke’s Hospital, living much of the time on her boat and supporting her friends. After a year they returned to England but, following a couple of consultant locum appointments, Joan was off again; this time to become lecturer in paediatrics in the University of the West Indies where she spent several very happy years. She was appointed consultant paediatrician to the Teeside Hospitals in 1966 and elected to the Fellowship of the RCP in 1974.

These are the bare facts, but they do not tell the full story of this courageous woman’s life. Whilst still in her ’teens she developed the first symptoms of chronic rheumatoid disease which was never to leave her. She was seldom free from pain, and as the years went by became physically more and more disabled. During her years in Middlesborough she underwent several major surgical operations, but always returned quickly to her work with its large clinical load in a busy and scattered department - a department she led quietly, smoothly and effectively. At the end of 1983, and now resigned to a more or less wheelchair existence, she retired. Happily this retirement, which she had dreaded, proved to be throughly enjoyable. A grateful District Health Authority had allowed her to keep a couple of outpatient sessions, but she soon found her days so filled that they began to intrude and she was glad to give these up. She joined the Open University and was very proud to have completed the first two years of the course. Ever a gregarious person she had time to see her many devoted friends, to enjoy her home and garden and care for her aged father.

Joan was an excellent clinician, well read and with wide experience. She published very little but she took great pleasure in teaching her junior staff, and in their success. She had a truly remarkable flair for getting instantly on to good terms with parents and children, and cared deeply about her child patients. Similarly, with her happy, vivacious and outgoing personality, she had an infinite capacity for forming lasting friendships with a wide variety of people. Intelligent and cultured, despite her illness she loved living and lived her life fully. Countless friends found her brilliant personality and selflessness an inspiration.

She collapsed suddenly one evening at her home in Stokesley and died the next day in the hospital she had served for 17 years.

RG Welch

[Brit.med.J., 1985,291,1212-3]

(Volume VIII, page 9)

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