Lives of the fellows

Evan Idris Jones

b.31 January 1910 d.7 September 1996
BSc Lond(1930) MSc(1933) MB BS(1934) MRCS LRCP(1934) MD(1936) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1964)

Idris Jones was a consulting general physician in the old sense of the word; an Edwardian gentleman scientist, with interests in biology and zoology as well as medicine. He was born in Windsor barracks, where his father, Richard Jones, was a trooper in the Life Guards. Shortly after his birth his father, who had little formal education, left the Army and went to live in the Rhondda Valley, working as a coal miner. Until he was fourteen Idris lived in Wales, speaking Welsh, and was educated at the local school.

In 1924 his father, sensing the coming of the depression, moved to London. Idris then obtained a scholarship to the Polytechnic Secondary School and then won the Warneford scholarship to King’s College Hospital, London. While working as a medical student at King’s he also enrolled in evening classes at the Chelsea Polytechnic, where he gained a BSc in zoology and human anatomy in 1930, proceeding to a MSc in 1933. He gained his medical qualification in 1934.

His first appointment was as assistant medical officer at the Maudsley Hospital (from 1934 to 1935); he followed this by becoming house physician at King’s College Hospital. After this appointment he was asthma research scholar at Kings; this led on to an appointment as medical registrar at King’s between 1936 and 1938.

At the start of the war, in 1939, he was appointed physician to the emergency medical service at St Mary’s Hospital unit at Harefield Hospital. Simultaneously with his work as physician at Harefield, he also worked as lecturer and subsequently head of biology at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. Recently, one of his former biology students, in paying tribute to his teaching skills, recalled that at St Mary’s during this time there were often queues of students waiting to get into his lectures and demonstrations.

Lord Moran [Munk’s Roll, Vol. VII, p.407], then dean of St Mary’s Hospital, was not willing to release him for military service until 1946 when he joined the RAMC, reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel and leaving in 1948. During his military service he was mainly in Singapore and Burma and was thus able to develop his long standing interest in tropical medicine and natural history.

After his discharge from the Army he was elected to the staff of Amersham Hospital, where he remained until 1953, by which time he was appointed to Mount Vernon Hospital as well as Harefield and the Northwood and Pinner District Hospital. He continued in these hospitals until he retired. He was much in demand for consultations and had a reputation for giving a rapid and clear opinion, frequently annotated with anecdotes from his experience. During the latter part of his time as a consultant he was active in various administrative duties, being chairman of the medical committee, a member of the hospital management committee and subsequently, following the reorganization of the NHS, chairman of the district medical committee and medical member of the management board.

While at Harefield he instigated and ran a Monday evening ward round for the local general practitioners: although this was primarily intended for the local general practitioners it was also frequently attended by both senior and junior members of the hospital staff. It was always the custom to adjourn afterwards to the bar of the Kings Arms. Towards the end of his time at Harefield, when he was a member of the hospital management committee, he took an active part in the raising of funds for, and the creation of, the Harefield and Northwood Postgraduate Medical Centre, which has continued to flourish as a permanent memorial to his activity and interest. He was elected chairman of the Postgraduate Medical Centre and, after his retirement, president.

After he retired from the biology post at St Mary’s he continued his lifelong interest in zoology, both as a hobby and also in the study of parasitic diseases. He took an active and practical interest in his garden, growing fruit and vegetables for his family and friends.

He was an active member of the Harrow Welsh Chapel and rarely missed a Sunday service there: he knew his Bible well and sang in a fine bass voice. In 1936 he married Marian, who predeceased him in 1990, after many happy years of marriage, during which his wife was of unfailing support to Idris in all his activities. He was a devoted family man and was very pleased that three of his children pursued medical careers and that one of his seven grandchildren has also qualified as a doctor.

He retired finally to North Wales, but did not give up his medical activities. Initially he worked as a medical examiner for the pneumoconiosis board, assessing disability in ex-miners: he always said he obtained this work because of his fluent knowledge of the Welsh language in an area where this was in many cases the only language spoken. He also did locum work at the local Bangor Hospital.

Anthony J Moon

[Brit.med.J., 1997,314,78]

(Volume X, page 264)

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