Lives of the fellows

Terence Robert Lancelot Finnegan

b.14 March 1922 d.16 March 1996
MB BS Lond(1946) MD(1950) MRCP(1950) FRCP(1971)

Terry Finnegan was a consultant physician in the Derby area with a special interest in gastroenterology. He was born into a medical family -his father was a general practitioner in Sanderstead and his two elder brothers became doctors. His determination to follow in their footsteps was evident from an early age and blossomed as he progressed through Epsom College. He was an accomplished athlete, excelling particularly in the 220 and 440 yards sprint races. His personal qualities ensured he was made head of the school. He entered Guy’s Hospital Medical School in 1941. After qualification and house appointments at Guy’s, he did his National Service as a medical officer in the Royal Air Force and continued as a volunteer long after demobilization, being stationed at Biggin Hill.

On his return to Guy’s he chose to train as a general physician and ascended through the registrar ranks between 1950 and 1956. He spent a year as a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1954. He was clinical tutor for three years from 1956 to 1959, a position he particularly enjoyed.

In 1959 he was appointed consultant physician to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, a hospital well accustomed to having Guy’s men on its staff. In addition to his general medical duties he took on the responsibilities for most of the geriatric beds in Derby which involved him in an enormous amount of work which he shouldered until 1966, when a new appointment to the staff was made. After he was relieved of so much general medicine he was freer to pursue his special interest in gastroenterology. He continued the tradition of bedside clinical teaching for the benefit of countless junior colleagues.

In 1982 he gave the presidential address to the Derby Medical Society. Without using slides he reflected on his long career and the enormous changes he had seen in medical practice, particularly in gastroenterology. He recalled long forgotten treatments for peptic ulcer and wards filled by patients with dreadful infections, thankfully only rarely seen today. It made for a fascinating evening and was thoroughly appreciated by the large audience present. He retired in 1987.

He listed his interests as golf, fishing and travel, but music, the arts and reading biographies also shaped his leisure hours. He delighted in his country home and beautiful garden. He coped and came to terms with his final illness of carcinoma of the colon complicated by metastases in the bones. He was sustained by a firm Christian faith and was magnificently supported by his friend of many years, Jonathan Halbert. Terry Finnegan was a quietly spoken, kindly, peaceful man, a great physician, friend and colleague.

G K T Holmes

[Brit.med.J., 1996,312,1535]

(Volume X, page 139)

<< Back to List