Lives of the fellows

Denis Morton Irwin Freeman

b.3 June 1916 d.24 July 1994
MRCS LRCP(1939) MB ChB Liverp(1939) MD(1947) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1969)

Denis Freeman built up medical services in Warrington after the introduction of the National Health Service. He was born in Cardiff, the son of Claude Emery Freeman, a doctor. The family moved to Liverpool early in Denis’ life and he was educated at Alsop High School. In 1934 he entered Liverpool University Medical School where he proved a very able student, winning many prizes during his student career. In September 1939 Denis began his career at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool as house surgeon to Herbert Williams. He went on to serve as house physician to Norman Capon [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.89]. After a brief spell as house physician in neuropsychiatry at the same hospital, Denis joined the RAFVR. He served in the Middle East for three and a half years, much of the time in the Western Desert.

Denis left the RAFVR in 1946 with the rank of squadron leader. He became a medical registrar and tutor at the Royal Southern Hospital, working with E Noble Chamberlain [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.97] and Gerard Sanderson [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.431]. He went on to work for a short period as a clinical assistant in pathology at Chester Royal Infirmary. An appointment to Bootle General Hospital followed in 1948, but the following year he took up the post that was to be his life work.

In 1949 he was appointed to both Warrington Infirmary and Warrington General Hospital when the National Health Service was in its infancy. Before his appointment the general medical services in the town were provided from various sources and it is much to Denis’ credit that an effective team of physicians was built up under his leadership. In the early days the traditions of the borough general and the voluntary hospital prevailed and there was considerable rivalry between the hospitals. Denis endured split site working for many years. In the early 1970s medical beds were concentrated on the General Hospital site. Warrington Infirmary finally closed in doors in 1979 and Denis was able to concentrate his activities in one place. He was a physician of the old school and ward rounds were very formal and disciplined. He regularly held a round early on Sunday mornings when his patients could be assessed free from weekday distractions. He was an enthusiastic teacher, building strong and lasting relationships with many registrars, particularly from Cyprus and Greece. For many years he worked alongside Jimmy Black, Bob White, and R Guest-Gornall, one of the last GP/consultants. In later years he was joined by Donald Pearson, John Jefferson and Barry Linaker.

Retirement came in 1982. Despite a very busy life in his early years he found time to write, contributing articles on rheumatic carditis and drug toxicity. He also served as a voluntary consultant at St Joseph’s School, Rainhill - a school for children with rheumatic heart disease.

He married Crystal Colyer in 1941, a union which was to last forty years. They had three sons and a daughter. Following Crystal’s death he married Brenda in 1983. Denis settled in the village of Croft, just north of Warrington, where he lived until his death. In leisure moments he was a keen follower of Manchester United and rarely missed a home match. He took a great interest in wildlife, was an enthusiastic ornithologist and a strong supporter of the World Wildlife Fund. He died after a long and painful illness.

J M Jefferson

[Brit.med.J., 1995,310,55]

(Volume X, page 152)

<< Back to List