Lives of the fellows

James Hardy John Durston

b.4 July 1935 d.8 January 1993
BA Cantab(1957) BChir(1960) MB(1961) MA(1968) MRCP(1968) FRCP(1980)

John Durston, was the only son of Cecil and Grace Durston. He was related to Thomas Hardy and had wide literary and historical interests. He was educated at Weymouth Grammar School and Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he held the Fearnsides scholarship, and his clinicals were undertaken at St Bartholomew’s Hospital medical school. After qualification he held house officer posts at Bart’s, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton. Later he was senior house officer at Whipps Cross Hospital. He moved on to the West End Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, initially as a senior house officer and then as registrar, during which time he obtained his membership of the College. He then became a research fellow in the university department of clinical neurology at the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, where he undertook experimental studies on the effects of denervation and tenotomy on muscle histochemistry with John Morgan-Hughes. Subsequently he was appointed senior registrar in neurology, jointly with the National Hospital, Queen Square, and St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

He was later appointed consultant neurologist in the north west metropolitan region. This was an impossibly busy post, initially based at the regional neurological and neurosurgical unit at the Whittington Hospital; the unit having been reconstructed from the West End Hospital, which by that time had closed. Apart from his duties at the Whittington Hospital, John Durston worked at the Watford General, Hemel Hempstead General, St Alban’s City and Stevenage Hospitals. Later, because of pressure of work, he relinquished the Watford General Hospital ana, when the unit transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, Durston moved from the Whittington to the Royal Free.

Sadly, his career was prematurely restricted after a stroke in 1981. He had developed insulin dependent diabetes at the age of 12 years but despite increasing complications in middle life he continued working and made light of his disabilities. Although he partially recovered from the stroke, he was forced to retire in 1988. He was a clinical neurologist of a high calibre and his colleagues appreciated both his intellect and his breadth of knowledge. He retired, with his wife Valerie, to his country home and large garden in Dorset. They had no children. This was a part of the country that he loved and he was at heart a countryman. He died peacefully at Portland Hospital.

P K Thomas

[Brit.med.J., 1993,306,1609]

(Volume IX, page 144)

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