Lives of the fellows

Donald Norman Leeming

b.21 September 1911 d.10 Sept 1993
MRCS LRCP(1935) MRCP(1947)FRCP(1971)

Donald Leeming was born in Old Colwyn, North Wales, into a medical family. His father, Arthur Norman Leeming, was a Guy’s trained GP/surgeon; his brother Roy, his uncle Arnold and a cousin John, all qualified from Guy’s. Donald was educated at Mill Hill School, Middlesex, and Guy’s Hospital medical school and following qualification he did all his junior house jobs at Guy’s and later became one of the hospital’s best loved and most respected medical registrars, until the outbreak of war in 1939 whereupon he joined the Royal Navy.

His war career was spectacular although his extreme modesty restrained his own reminiscences. At the time of Dunkirk, he accompanied a party of Marines to Boulogne to treat and repatriate severely wounded casualties and his skill and bravery earned him a mention in despatches. He then served in destroyers at sea and in a hospital ship. Later, he was posted as a medical specialist to Haslar, the Royal Naval Hospital at Gosport, with particular responsibility for patients from the mobile chest unit at the naval barracks in Portsmouth. In June 1943 Haslar Hospital became a clearing station for casualties from the Normandy invasion; all operating theatres were at full stretch and Donald then took over anaesthetics. It was at this time that he met and married his wife Diana Palmer, a VAD. Finally, he was drafted via a special convoy to the Royal Naval Hospital m Colombo where he taught colleagues how to care for tuberculosis and dysentry, which were rife in the island at that time.

On demobilization in 1945, he returned to Guy’s to complete his senior registrarship. He obtained his membership of the College and was subsequently appointed consultant chest physician to Southport Hospital, with duties at Ormskirk Hospital and at the sanatoria at Fazakerley, Rufford and Aintree. His interest was clinical chest medicine and his satisfactions lay in that field. He was a practitioner rather than an innovator but a connection with the thoracic surgical unit at Broadgreen Hospital, and attendance at the Broadgreen Thoracic Society, kept him in touch with progress. He was a member of the Liverpool Institute and the Southport and Ormskirk Medical Societies. He was also a member of the Southport medical advisory committee and secretary of the Ormskirk medical committee for 10 years.

Donald was greatly loved; to colleagues he was a wonderful and unforgettable friend, to his patients his innate kindness and perception earned him their affection and respect. In his younger days he played rugby for Guy’s 1st XV during its heyday. He also played tennis and golf but his great interest lay m sailing. When he could no longer sail with Diana as crew he took up modelling yachts and motor launches with a natural skill, and he had always been a voracious reader. He and Diana had two sons, Timothy and Ian, and four grandchildren. D Stafford-Clark


(Volume IX, page 312)

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