Lives of the fellows

Howell William Howell

b.12 September 1906 d.7 July 1993
MRCS LRCP(1930) MB BS(1931) MD(1932) MRCP(1933) FRCP(1967)

Howell William Howell was the son of Thomas Howell, a farmer, and his wife Eleanor née Evans who was the daughter of a farmer. He was born at his father’s farm at Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire, where he spent his childhood and adolescence and grew to have a great love of the countryside and country pursuits - especially shooting and fishing, which were to be his hobbies to the end of his life. He was educated first at the local primary school and later at Carmarthen Grammar School.

He graduated in medicine at The London Hospital, Whitechapel, and continued his postgraduate training there, obtaining his doctorate in 1932 and his membership of the College in 1933. He eventually became senior registrar to William Evans [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.146], specializing in cardiology.

In 1937 he returned to South Wales, joining a general practice in Swansea. He was appointed assistant physician to the Swansea General and Eye Hospital m 1938 and quickly established himself as a highly respected physician. He was rejected for military service for medical reasons and spent the war years in Swansea where, despite great difficulties, he continued in consulting practice as well as working as a very busy general practitioner.

With the inception of the NHS in 1948 he was appointed consultant physician at Swansea General. There followed many busy years when he bore a very heavy workload at the hospital and ran an extensive private practice. He also played his full part in medical administration, being a highly respected chairman of the Swansea Hospital medical committee. He was a founder member of the Society of Physicians in Wales and its chairman in 1962. Howell was deeply involved in the planning of Singleton Hospital, which was built on a new site to replace Swansea General. He was responsible, with others, for ensuring that the number of physicians in Swansea was increased and that specialist services in renal medicine and gastroenterology were introduced when the new hospital opened in 1967.

His younger colleagues, of whom the writer is one, have particular reason to be grateful to him for his support and wise counsel during the setting up of new services in Swansea and the extension of those already existing. It was a very happy coincidence that in 1967, the year when Singleton Hospital opened, Howell was elected to the fellowship of the College; an honour which gave the greatest of pleasure to all his colleagues. He retired from the health service in 1971 when he was 65 years old, but continued his private practice - mainly because so many of his old patients insisted that he did. In 1972 he was awarded the fellowship of the BMA in recognition of his long service to the Association.

Although Howell was a very shy and retiring man, he fought long and hard for the improvement of medical services in Swansea and was able the better to do so because of the esteem in which he was held by his medical, nursing and administrative colleagues. In 1977 he finally retired from practice and returned to his beloved Nantgaredig, where he had always kept a holiday cottage. His final years were clouded by the death of his only child, John, at the age of 44 years and by the failing health of his wife Enid, who survived him.

D Daley

[Brit.med.J., 1992,305,949]

(Volume IX, page 247)

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