Lives of the fellows

Louis Philippe Eugène Laurent

b.11 January 1906 d.22 September 1992
MRCS LRCP(1928) MB BS Lond(1929) MRCP(1930) MD(1932) FRCP(1941)

Eugène Laurent, always known as ‘Urcher’ by family and friends, was born in Mauritius, the son of a well known physician and politician who had a street named after him in the capital, Port Louis. He came to England at the age of 12 years, with his parents and younger brother Pierre. The boys went to Epsom College and later both he and Pierre followed their father to University College Hospital, University of London, to study medicine.

After qualification and various house jobs at UCH, Laurent became RMO and registrar at the Maida Vale Hospital in London and subsequently returned to UCH as medical registrar. In 1937 he was appointed physician to the West London Hospital, Hammersmith, and to the King Edward Hospital, Ealing. In the same year he married Phyllis Baker, daughter of Charles Baker CVO, Keeper of the National Gallery. There were no children of the marriage.

During the war he worked in the EMS, from 1939-46, and was physician in charge of the units for spinal and peripheral nerve injuries at Park Prewitt Hospital, Basingstoke, and in 1946 he was appointed to the French Hospital in London.

Sadly, his wife Phyllis developed myasthenia gravis and died in 1956. As a consequence, Urcher developed a particular interest in the condition and studied and wrote extensively on the subject. He was a fine general physician with a remarkable knowledge of medicine, especially of endocrinology, and an exceptionally good diagnostician with a flair for getting to the heart of a problem; because of this ability he was a great teacher and had a knack of simplifying even the most difficult subjects.

In 1958 Urcher married Patricia Anne Monk (Paddy) who had been his registrar at the West London Hospital and who became staff health physician at UCH. They had two daughters, Susan and Rosemary. Susan followed the family tradition, training at UCH, and was appointed a consultant paediatrician in 1992; Rosemary went up to Cambridge University and is now a journalist. Both girls married doctors who trained at University College Hospital.

For his services to the French Dispensary in London - he was bilingual - Urcher was appointed Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 1961.

He was a delightful companion with many interests, especially golf which he played regularly until advancing age forced him to give it up. He retired from the NHS in 1971 but continued to work for many years at the Manor House Hospital, eventually retiring in 1986. Paddy predeceased him, dying suddenly in France that same year.

WML Turner

[Brit.med.J., 1993,306,137]

(Volume IX, page 309)

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