Lives of the fellows

John Hirst

b.18 March 1915 d.13 January 1993
MB ChB Leeds(1939) MD(1946) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1972)

John Hirst was born in Huddersfield. He was the youngest child of Percy Lionel Hirst, a woollen manufacturer, and his wife Alice née Sykes, a farmer’s daughter. He was educated at Gledholt, Huddersfield, and Huddersfield College, before entering Leeds University medical school.

After graduation, he undertook house officer posts at Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital from 1939-1940. He joined the RAMC in 1940 and saw service in Egypt, the Middle East, Yugoslavia and Italy. During this time he worked with Lord Rosenheim. He was graded physician m 1944 and demobilized in 1946.

On his return to civilian life he resumed his training as medical registrar at Leeds General Infirmary. He later held posts as medical registrar and RMO at St James’s Hospital and Leeds General, and in October 1947 he was appointed assistant lecturer in the department of therapeutics at Leeds University. He was also senior registrar in medicine at Leeds General Infirmary with S J Hartfall [Munks Roll, Vol.VII, p.251] and Maxwell Telling Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.573] from 1948-1950, when he was appointed consultant physician in Oldham.

John Hirst was the first consultant to be appointed exclusively to the Oldham Hospitals and he was initially charged with the supervision of general medical, paediatric, geriatric and psychiatric wards until the appointment of specialists in those areas. He was subsequently involved in the development of the department of general medicine, taking a particular interest in diabetes. He established a diabetic clinic and collaborated in clinical research, which resulted in publications in The Practitioner and The Postgraduate Medical Journal.

He was a member of the Oldham and District Hospital management committee from 1950-63 and later served as chairman of the general medicine and intensive care specialty group. He was an active member of the Oldham division of the BMA, a member of its executive committee and chairman of the division 1956-57. He associated himself with the Ashton-under-Lyne Adoption Society and with the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Oldham.

John was a keen fell walker but was limited in his activities after retirement by arthritis. Despite this, he enjoyed visiting his caravan in the Lake District. His limited mobility made him very dependent on his wife Stella née Speight, his companion for 44 years. They married in 1948 and had three children - Peter, who is a physician, Susan and Christine. His wife died suddenly in August 1992 and his own health seemed to deteriorate progressively from that time.

T J Wallace

[Brit.med.J., 1993,306,1746]

(Volume IX, page 241)

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