Lives of the fellows

Frank Laurence Dyson

b.12 January 1917 d.9 February 1996
MRCS LRCP(1939) MB BS Lond(1939) MRCP(1945) MD(1945) FRCP(1969)

At his retirement Frank Dyson proudly claimed to be one of the last of the general physicians. He was born in Bristol, the son of A E Dyson, a bank manager. His uncle was the ninth Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Dyson. Frank had happy memories of Christmas gatherings of many relations at the Greenwich Royal Observatory. During a happy childhood Frank was educated at St John’s School, Pinner, and later at Brighton College where he gained an entrance scholarship. He began his medical studies at University College, London, and later went on to University College Hospital, qualifying in 1939 with a distinction in medicine. Immediately after qualification he was appointed house physician at the Chester Royal Infirmary.

Frank served in the RAMC in India and the Middle East with the rank of captain and was awarded the 1939 - 1945 star and the King’s commendation for brave conduct (civil). The final months of military service saw Frank Dyson at the Chester Military Hospital. He made good use of this time and was successful in passing the MD and membership examinations.

Discharged from the Army he became supernumerary house physician at University College Hospital, medical registrar at the Royal Northern Hospital and completed his training as senior medical registrar at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

In 1950, shortly after the introduction of the National Health Service, Frank Dyson was appointed consultant physician to the Bro Morgannwg Group of Hospitals under the aegis of the Welsh Regional Board. Before his appointment to the group, whose hospitals included those at Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend and Maesteg, medical services were provided by occasional visits from physicians based in Cardiff and Swansea. Responsibility for the provision of health care for a population of around two hundred thousand was a daunting task which Frank embraced with vigour and enthusiasm. His opinion was much sought. He actively contributed to the development of these hospitals but a decade passed before he was joined by a similarly qualified colleague. In the latter years of his career he concentrated his activities at the hospital at Neath by which time he had ensured the appointment of a new generation of physicians in the hospitals he had served.

His role in organizing medical services prevented him following his undoubted interests in research for which his intellect was ideally suited. However he gained vicarious pleasure however, in the fact that many of his junior staff achieved eminence in various branches of medicine largely as a result of his encouragement and example. His inquiring mind led him to identify the source of an outbreak of fascioliasis in the Neath Valley, the results of which were published.

He retired from Neath in 1977, but regularly attended the postgraduate meeting at Bridgend and enlivened meetings with his wry sense of humour and healthy scepticism of some medical advances with scant regard for the eminence of those proposing them. A few weeks before his death he had attended a meeting of the Society of Physicians in Wales which he had supported throughout the course of his professional life.

He had many interests outside medicine. The predominant one was golf. Fortuitously, during his Army service he was at one time billeted in what is now the secretary’s office at the Formby Golf Club. He was a past captain and president of the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. He competed in the annual father and son competition at the West Hill Golf Club for thirty years, winning the competition with his son Peter in 1972. Frank Dyson was also captain and vice president of the Senior Golfers Society of Great Britain.

Gardening was another great joy. He made his first garden outside his bungalow whilst on Army service in India and at each successive home he transformed uninteresting plots into functional and beautiful gardens. He loved good wine and made regular trips to French vineyards to replenish his cellar.

Frank Dyson was sustained throughout his professional life by his family. He married Philippa Howard, the daughter of Sir Henry Howard. Philippa Dyson continued in medical practice with an interest in community paediatrics. They had three sons, one of whom is a barrister, another an accountant and their youngest son is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

J S Morris

(Volume X, page 120)

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