Lives of the fellows

George Davison

b.21 May 1910 d.23 March 1983
MB BS Durh(1932) MD(1935) MRCP(1935) DCH(1935) FRCP(1953)

George Davison was the son of George and Ann Isabelle Davison. His forebears were Northumbrian, from both north and south of the Tyne, with long roots in seafaring, railways and mining.

He was educated at Edward VI Grammar School, Morpeth, and at Durham University College of Medicine and its associated hospitals in Newcastle upon Tyne. Graduating, with first class honours, in 1932, he held resident appointments in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, made a short but prophetic sally into London medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, returned to Newcastle in 1935 as medical registrar to the Infirmary, and in 1938 became paediatric registrar to the newly established children’s department of the Newcastle General Hospital.

From then until his retirement as senior consultant in 1974 this was the centre of his professional life. His attitudes and style of practice were influenced by two outstanding men: James Spence who brought him into paediatrics, and William Hume who kept him a physician in the mainstream of medicine.

Davison believed deeply in the importance of the general clinician, and demonstrated this so convincingly that his counsel was widely sought by colleagues and general practitioners alike. He was a doctor’s doctor. Reluctant at first to accept administrative responsibilities, he became an effective and trusted member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Northern Regional Hospital Board.

He had two wider interests: the British Paediatric Association, of which he became a member in 1945 and an honorary member in 1974, and professional examinations. He loved the friendships of the first and in return, through his photographic skill, provided the Association with a remarkable pictorial record of personalities and meeting places over many years. The second developed from his concern for high standards in clinical teaching; if knowledge and skills were to be measured, methods must be relevant and as precise as possible. This brought him especially to the MRCP examining board and to question-setting in medicine and in paediatrics; it involved him also for many years in the Diploma of Child Health, and in adapting it to changing needs.

In his priorities, research gave place to clinical care and teaching; yet his careful studies established the general prevalence of congenital pyloric stenosis, and increased our understanding of urinary tract infection in childhood and adolescence.

He had wide personal interests — environmental conservation, photography, scouting, boys’ clubs — preferring private support rather than public involvement. He was a governor and vice-chairman of the board of governors of his local high school.

What were the inner springs of his untiring commitment? These were fed in a happy childhood by his parents, especially his father. A gifted headmaster, he consistently expressed high standards of achievement and enjoyment; George made these his own not only in medicine but in mathematics, electronics and music. Order, precision, humanity were his watchwords, nurtured by rich involvement and delight in his family.

In 1938 he married Maud Hope; she died in 1959 leaving two daughters both of whom became doctors. In 1964 he married Eleanor Pamela Price-Jones, a paediatrician in training; she with their daughter and son survived him.

Slight in build, seemly in dress, welcoming in appearance, upright in behaviour, he was a man in the mould of Chaucer’s ‘verray parfit gentil knight’.

SDM Court

[, 1983, 286, 1522-1523]

(Volume VII, page 145)

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