Lives of the fellows

Vincent Edwards Lloyd-Hart

b.23 June 1909 d.10 May 1987
MRCS LRCP(1933) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1961)

Vincent Edwards Lloyd-Hart, known to his many colleagues and friends as ‘John’, died on 10 May 1987. He had asked, and was given, a very quiet, private funeral, befitting a quiet man who described himself as intensely shy.

John was born in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, the son of a prosperous draper. After preparatory school he was educated at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, ‘a Wesleyan establishment with vegetarian inclinations’. He won prizes, played rugby football and shot for the school, and was a champion boxer. As a prefect, he claimed total inability to keep order - perhaps unsurprisingly: among boys he may well have been too gentle. He then went to London to study the basic sciences and gained admission to the London Hospital medical school. Student life was happy. He described entry into the wards as ‘opening a new world’. His shyness did not prevent, indeed was perhaps relieved by personal contact with individual patients. Meanwhile, he boxed for the United Hospitals, and played both rugby football and cricket in the second teams. He qualified in 1933 and obtained his membership of the College a little later. He held various junior appointments at the London Hospital.

By way of variety, perhaps a respite from study, and no doubt expressing an altruism which he would not have admitted verbally, he went for a time to drive an ambulance in the Spanish Civil War.

Returning to seek locum work whilst considering the future, he was asked by Sir John Parkinson [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.443], to whom he had been house physician, to act on his behalf as personal medical attendant to Pierpoint Morgan on his estate in Scotland. This must have opened a vista on another new world. John reported that this was, fortunately, an uneventful period.

As a locum in a well established practice in Aylesbury he met his future wife, Marcia Read. Also, happily, he was invited to join the practice, so marriage was soon possible and must have fortified him for the war years. The practice was busy, with attendance as physician to the Royal Bucks Hospital, and later to the old ‘workhouse’ which became Tindal General Hospital and was in the wartime EMS sector with its apex at the Middlesex Hospital. The arrival of students from the latter created a demand for teaching.

The end of World War II and the inauguration of the National Health Service forced a choice between an established general practice and full commitment to the hospital service. He chose the latter.

His contribution to medicine in Aylesbury was indeed great. Particular examples to be recalled are his painstaking participation in the extension and eventual transfer of the Aylesbury medical unit to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, as the latter was gradually transferred from the Ministry of Pensions to the NHS; his clear vision of the need to marry medicine with surgery; despite local difficulties his development of a regular commitment to visiting the county psychiatric hospital, St John’s, at Stone, as general physician; and his personal contribution to the organization of care for coronary patients. His own special interests were in cardiology and thyroid disease. He published relatively little of a technical sort, but his reading was avid and wide. His opinion and advice were much sought and respected. His knowledge of general practice made his domiciliary visits of peculiar value to general practitioner and patient, and his hospital letters were humane communications. His awareness of psychological and social factors in illness was highly developed.

His general interests were wide and included European and local history. He wrote two small books, Health in the Vale of Aylesbury, a lively review of local health care and social history, and John Wilkes and the foundling hospital at Aylesbury, Aylesbury, HM + M Publishers, 1979. Both, the result of many hours spent in libraries and among files, blend serious and comic material and betray a taste for the picaresque among the virtuous. He enjoyed owning fast cars (which he drove with discretion) but also driving a tractor on his farm. With his wife, he furnished their home with pleasant things, including fine china. Before two serious physical illnesses and their complications he was an active village cricketer and an enterprising dinghy sailor; he was also experienced with a shotgun. He enjoyed good food and wine, but frugally.

As a man, despite his shyness and a diffidence sometimes resulting in an over elaborate courtesy, and occasional difficulty in choosing words, for which he had a proper respect, he was good company. The most common word used of him by articulate patients, then and now, has been ‘gentleman’. The less articulate called him, in the modern vernacular, ‘a lovely man’. His own commendation of others was often to say ‘an honourable man’. He had no lack of humour, as is illustrated in the selection of anecdotes in the two books mentioned above. When forced by political circumstances into a slightly devious course, he would say apologetically that he had been ‘a little Machiavellian’. His charm earned forgiveness for occasional unpunctuality. As a patient he was extraordinarily considerate of his medical attendants and nurses.

Throughout his married life he was supported by his wife, with strength and affection. The two were excellent hosts in their own home, and he treated his patients as guests in the hospital.

John’s last years were clouded by ill health. He left much unfinished, but much was achieved. Friends and colleagues will remember him with affection, colleagues with respect, and very many patients with gratitude.

WB Armstrong

[Brit.med.J., 1987,295,613]

(Volume VIII, page 289)

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