Lives of the fellows

Thomas Bones Hamilton Haslett

b.8 March 1907 d.27 January 1980
MB BCh BAO Belf (1929) BSc (1933) MD (1933) DPH (1934) MRCP (1938) FRCP (1966)

Ham Haslett was born in Larne, Northern Ireland, the son of JA Haslett, linen factory manager, and Alice Hamilton, the daughter of the Town Clerk of Larne.

Ham went to Larne Grammar School, after which he had a distinguished career in Belfast, where he obtained first class honours in 1929 at the Queen’s University, followed by a first class BSc in pathology, and MD with gold medal in 1933. He was Rockefeller research fellow and lecturer in pathology at Queen’s University from 1931 to 1934, in which year he decided against a career on the teaching staff in Belfast in favour of a more clinical career in England, and obtained the appointment of pathologist to Cheltenham General Hospital, and soon afterwards consultant physician to Cheltenham and other Gloucestershire hospitals.

As would be expected with this background, his main interests as a physician were in diabetes and blood diseases, the former particularly being remembered in the pioneering work he did in founding the Diabetic Clinic in Cheltenham (the first in Gloucestershire) which became the largest single medical clinic in the hospital. He was also blood transfusion officer for North Gloucestershire. Despite these special interests he was always in demand as a general physician, and his thoughtful, wise and considerate opinion was sought by his hospital colleagues and a large circle of general practitioners in Gloucestershire and neighbouring counties. In addition to Cheltenham, he gave devoted service as consultant to Winchcombe, Evesham and Bourton-on-the-Water Hospitals and to Cheltenham College and Dean Close School. His stature as a wise counsellor was perhaps best reflected in his outstanding chairmanship of the Cheltenham Medical Staff Committee from 1954 to 1957. At the same time he was president of the Gloucestershire branch of the BMA.

In addition to his distinguished university academic career, Ham represented his university for three years at hockey and five years at golf. Golf continued as his main sporting activity throughout his consultant career, with a handicap of scratch for several years, and the winning of innumerable medical golfing trophies. As with so many Irishmen, horse racing was in his blood, and he was an enthusiastic and active member of Cheltenham racecourse.

Ham retired as a consultant in 1969. Unfortunately ill health prevented the pursuit of his more active hobbies during retirement, but by way of compensation he was able to turn to his old love of music — he had a fine baritone voice as a young man. His wife Jean (by whom he had two daughters) was fortunately able to continue to give him the support she had given throughout his years of work as a consultant.

He died at his home at Chipping Norton. On a personal note, Ham is remembered by the warmth of his friendship and the quiet modesty of his opinions; on a practical note, his memorial is the Diabetic Clinic at Cheltenham Hospital.

RF Jarrett

[Brit.med.J., 1980, 280, 727]

(Volume VII, page 253)

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