Lives of the fellows

Alexander Adam Mcintosh Nicol

b.25 April 1900 d.26 March 1983
MB ChB Aberd(1922) MD(1926) MRCP(1928) FRCP(1947)

Sandy Nicol, as he was known to his very many friends professional and otherwise, was educated in his home town of Aberdeen at the Grammar School and University. After holding house surgeon and house physician appointments at the Royal Sick Children’s Hospital in Aberdeen, he emigrated south like so many of his countrymen, to hold house surgeon and house physician appointments at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, at Great Ormond Street and, from 1925 to 1929, at Hackney Hospital, becoming resident physician and deputy superintendent.

He came to Sunderland in 1929, initially in private general practice, but his high qualities were rapidly recognized and he was appointed to the consultant staff of the Voluntary Royal Infirmary, Sunderland, and of the closely associated Children’s Hospital, as assistant physician in 1930, and also dermatologist in 1931. In 1943 he was appointed physician, and in 1946 senior physician to these two hospitals, as colleagues retired.

During and after the war years, Sandy also held visiting appointments at the EMS hospitals at Ryhope and Sedgefield, and at the Sunderland General Hospital, and with the aid of three general practitioners continued these heavy responsibilities without consultant support until 1947, when further appointments began to be made. He carried this enormous load in a town which was heavily bombed, on occasions within yards of his home. Only those who knew him well, his enthusiasm for his work, his energy, his good cheer, and his excellent relationship with his patients, can understand how he did it all. A great love for the Royal Infirmary, a very happy place in which to work, must have helped him greatly.

He helped in setting up an arthritis clinic in 1947, a pioneering effort in those days (‘Organization of an arthritis clinic’, Lancet, 1948).

Sandy’s enthusiasm became channelled about the time of his retirement in 1965 into campaigning for the opening of a renal dialysis unit at the hospital. Initial official resistance was eventually overcome, and the unit was, very appropriately, officially declared open by himself in 1970 and has fully proved how great his foresight was. This was one of the high points of his career; another being his election to the fellowship in 1947, when he was the first doctor practising solely in the then County of Durham to be so elected.

He was an adviser in medicine to the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board, an associate clinical teacher of Newcastle University, and member of the Sunderland Hospital management committee from 1948 to his retirement, and a prominent member of the BMA locally and centrally.

Despite his very busy professional life Sandy found time to pursue his outside interests. His greatest was trout fishing in the upper reaches of the Coquet, which he continued until a few years before his death; he enjoyed a game of golf in his younger days, and he was a prominent Freemason who attended his Lodge meetings regularly until his terminal illness. He kept going despite needing a cardiac pacemaker during the last seven or eight years. He died in the hospital to which he had given so much. He was survived by his wife Edna, who gave him unfailing support over the years, his medically qualified son, his daughter and six grandchildren.

RH Vasey

[Brit.med.J., 1982, 286, 1452]

(Volume VII, page 429)

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