Lives of the fellows

Stuart Edmund Mullenger Jarvis

b.1 October 1916 d.15 January 1982
MB ChB Cape Town(1940) DCH(1949) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1969)

Stuart Jarvis was born at Umtali, an important town in what was then Southern Rhodesia, on the Mozambique border, where his father Edmund Mullenger Jarvis was a veterinary surgeon. His mother was Constance, daughter of James Allen Methven, a business man. Stuart was first educated at Grey College, Port Elizabeth, and then at Umtali School before studying medicine at Cape Town University. He held a Beit Memorial fellowship during clinical training at Groote Schuur Hospital, where he became house physician in the paediatric department. After holding a similar position in general medicine at Wynberg General Hospital, Cape Town, he volunteered for service in the South African Medical Corps and from 1942-47 was a regimental medical officer, and a medical officer in a field ambulance in Egypt and Italy.

After demobilization he came to London for postgraduate study at the Hospital for Sick Children and other London hospitals, and attended a course in Edinburgh. Thus well grounded, he passed the examinations for the DCH and MRCP. Having decided on a career in paediatrics he undertook a year’s rotating internship at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in Hackney Road, London, where he remained as registrar until 1952 when he was appointed first assistant in the Royal Free Hospital group. While working there he was awarded a travelling fellowship to visit paediatric centres in Scandinavia and Finland.

At that time there was no paediatrician in the Army although the RAMC was expected to serve the children of soldiers, sailors and airmen overseas, as well as the children of embassies and English schools abroad. On the representation of the civilian paediatric adviser to the Army, Bernard Schlesinger FRCP (q.v.) it was decided to appoint a paediatric consultant and Jarvis was encouraged to apply. He became consultant paediatrician with the rank of major in 1957.

Stuart Jarvis immediately set about improving the medical care of children in hospital and in general practice abroad, particularly in maternity units. Within a few years he had two consultant colleagues. They rarely met for each moved around every three years; one based in England, one in Germany, and the third in Singapore. Successively, Jarvis was responsible for paediatrics in six hospitals in Germany, four in the Far East from Nepal to Hong Kong, and the Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot, as well as being adviser to the Ministry of Defence. He established an organization for which he received well deserved credit. He retired in 1974 with the rank of colonel. He was then 58 and worked for a while as a medical assessor for the Ministry of Health. Two years later he became paediatric consultant at the Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Here he was in his element and happy, living life to the full. His hobbies were botany and horticulture, and when he retired to England in 1981 he went to live quietly in Worcestershire. Soon afterwards he had a fatal heart attack.

Jarvis was tall and slim, with a soldierly open-air appearance. His movements were quick, he talked well and was mannerly. A colleague wrote of him: ‘I am sorry his effervescence was extinguished so prematurely... he impressed new colleagues with his boundless enthusiasm, wit and charm... what never failed to impress me was his apparent mastery of all the latest advances in paediatrics while giving the impression of a rather old-fashioned type of character. A great entertainer, a great teacher, and an excellent children’s doctor of the old school.’

Jarvis married Annice Beeley of Worcester, a state registered nurse, and they had two daughters and two sons, one of whom followed his father into the Army, but not into the RAMC.

PR Evans

(Volume VIII, page 244)

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