b.7 April 1920 d.16 July 1994
MRCS LRCP(1943) MB BS Lond(1947) DCH(1948) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1967)
Bernard Laurance was born in London and educated at Merchant Taylors School. His medical training was undertaken at St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School. After qualifying in 1943 he joined the RNVR and took part in the Normandy landings. He was demobilized in 1946 and returned to civilian life, becoming interested in paediatrics. He went on to complete house posts at Great Ormond Street, and registrarships at King’s College Hospital and the Bristol Children’s Hospital.
His first consultant appointment, in 1954, was at the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital where he established a national reputation as a clinician and teacher. In 1967 he was seconded to Uganda as visiting professor of paediatrics at Makerere Medical School, Kampala. His stay in Uganda was marred by tragedy when he and his wife, Margaret Audrey (née Kidner) were involved in a serious car accident and she was killed.
On his return to the UK he was appointed consultant physician to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, Hackney, where he developed an interest in paediatric endocrinology and the Prader-Willi syndrome, on which subject he wrote the first British publication. In 1981 he retired from this appointment but, in spite of troublesome arthritis and angina, he continued to practice as a visiting consultant in the West Indies, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and as a locum consultant in several district hospitals in this country. He had a coronary bypass in 1982. In 1992, after a serious cardiac infarct, his health deteriorated but he remained cheerful and active, enjoying the regular meetings of the College invigilators’ ‘club’. Over lunch at St Andrews Place only three weeks before this death, he entertained this group with his experiences as a cardiac emergency.
All paediatricians of his generation will remember Bernard’s contributions to the work and welfare of the British Paediatric Association; he was a member of the academic board from 1966 to 1967 and honorary secretary from 1971 to 1975. During his term of office the BPA began to change from a small specialist society, with one room and a secretary, to a rapidly enlarging and increasingly influential national professional body. He was also secretary to the College committee on paediatrics from 1980 to 1985 and president of the section of paediatrics of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1979. In 1980 he became the first president of the Prader-Willi Association, which was set up to help families with an affected child and to promote research. He held this office until shortly before his death.
In 1970 he married his second wife, Anne (née Wakefield), who accompanied him on his travels round the world and was a great support, especially in times of crisis. They had one daughter. The family also included three children of his first marriage and Anne’s two adopted children. Bernard’s leisure interests included gardening, sailing and art.
[Brit.med.J., 1994,309,1154; Times, 22 July 1994]
(Volume X, page 291)
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