Lives of the fellows

Vincent Edmunds

b.28 February 1919 d.5 February 1992
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BS Lond(1943) MD(1943) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1969)

Vincent Edmunds, always known as John, was born in New Barnet, Hertfordshire, the son of John Joseph Edmunds, a civil servant, and his wife Ethel Maud née Darnell, the daughter of a farmer. He was educated at Penshurst School and Eltham College, going on to the University of London to study medicine. He did his preclinical work at King’s College and then won a scholarship to Charing Cross Hospital where he completed his clinical work. During his undergraduate years he not only won a number of prizes for academic work but also several cups for athletic prowess. He was a member of the Charing Cross Hospital rugby team. After graduation and hospital posts at Charing Cross and West Herts Hospitals, he joined the RAMC.

It was while at the West Herts that he met his future wife, Peggy, and they were married in 1944. It was a very happy marriage and Peggy subsequently resigned as a consultant paediatrician at West Herts in order to devote her time to bringing up her family. They had two children, Jane and Simon.

In the RAMC John served in Italy, Greece and Palestine. He was graded a medical specialist and was demobilized with the rank of captain in 1947. After demobilization he returned to Charing Cross Hospital as medical registrar and later moved to the Central Middlesex Hospital as registrar; subsequently working there as research assistant to Sir Francis Avery Jones. He was awarded the gold medal for his doctoral thesis and m 1951 he was appointed consultant physician and gastroenterologist to the Charing Cross Hospital unit at Mount Vernon Hospital - which later became a regional hospital board appointment. He held this post until he retired in 1984.

In 1957 he was appointed physician to the Mildmay Mission Hospital and remained in this post until the hospital closed in 1983. He was also chief medical officer to the Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Company of Canada. He was elected to the fellowship of the College in 1969 and was appointed an examiner for Part II of the membership examination m 1972; he continued to examine until 1988. In 1977 he was elected chairman of the Mount Vernon Hospital medical committee, which involved work which he found difficult and did not enjoy.

As a tribute to him, one of the new medical wards at Mount Vernon was named after him. He was a conscientious, painstaking and competent physician whose innate modesty and humility belied his true ability. He was much liked and respected by his colleagues, his junior staff and members of the nursing profession and his sound and accurate judgement was recognized by all.

The whole of John Edmunds’ professional and private life was dominated by his very strong Christian belief. This initially influenced his choice of career while still at school. It was there he joined the Crusaders, an association which he continued for most of his life. He was a founder member of the Christian Medical Fellowship and its chairman from 1965-67. For 31 years he was also editor of their journal In the Service of Medicine, later renamed Journal of the Christian Medical Fellowship. He was also joint author, with C G Scorer, of Ethical responsibility in medicine, Edinburgh, Livingstone, 1967.

He was an active member of Emmanuel Church for 32 years, where he served as a sidesman, a member of the Parochial Church Council, and finally as churchwarden. His vicar referred to him as ‘A rock of sound judgement’. He was leader of the Northwood Crusaders for many years and annually took parties of boys and, more recently, girls (Venturers) sailing on the Norfolk Broads in the Easter holidays. He was also vice-commodore of the sailing club.

John Edmunds was a devoted family man. He bore his long and painful illness with fortitude, dignity and good humour - as would be expected of him.

A J Moon

(Volume IX, page 148)

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