Lives of the fellows

Alan Gordon Ogilvie

b.17 March 1900 d.26 February 1983
MB BS Dunelm(1924) MRCP(1929) MD(1939) FRCP(1945)

Alan Ogilvie was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was educated at Corchester preparatory school and St Bees, and he studied medicine at the College of Medicine in Newcastle, then a college of the University of Durham. He graduated in 1924 and was later awarded the Doctorate of Medicine with honours and a gold medal.

He was married and had one son and two daughters.

In his younger days he was a not inconsiderable athlete, being one and two miles champion of Northumberland and Durham, and winner of the one, two and three miles at the University of Durham in the years 1920 to 1924 inclusive.

After being house surgeon and house physician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, he became house physician at the Children’s Hospital at Birmingham, and then at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London. In 1933 he was appointed assistant honorary physician to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and he became an honorary physician there in 1941. He was also an honorary physician to the pioneering Babies’ Hospital and Mothercraft Centre, the inspiration of James Spence, one of Alan Ogilvie’s closest friends.

Ogilvie was one of the ‘characters’ at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. Affectionately called ‘The Og’, he was sometimes referred to by the more timorous students and nurses as ‘The Red Terror’. This latter appellation was to a great extent, however, a misnomer. True, he had somewhat crinkly sandy red hair, on the ward a somewhat abrupt manner and speech containing stereotyped sentences some of which could only be translated by those who knew him well, and a determination that the standards on his ward should be of the highest. Beneath this, however, he was a kind, modest person with a nice wit and one who was as straight as a die.

He was deeply concerned for the efficiency of his hospital and devoted to the efficient care and welfare of his patients. He did everything with vigour, and this was very apparent in the manner of his percussion for which he was notorious; there were very few Christmas house concerts which did not contain some reference to it!

In his senior years Ogilvie inevitably became increasingly involved in the committee work of his hospital, to which he gave unstintingly of his time, but this was never allowed to undermine his clinical work, his teaching or the time he spent in clinical investigation.

His main interest was in diseases of the respiratory system and, in particular, chronic bronchitis — the subject of his MD thesis. The study which he carried out with DJ Newall into chronic bronchitis in Newcastle was a model of its kind and showed the very high incidence of this condition in the locality. In 1962 he was elected president of the Thoracic Society.

Ogilvie loved the country and particularly the striking beauty of central Northumberland. He retired there to his cottage where, with his wife, he spent many happy years of retirement.

Sir George Smart

[Brit.med.J., 1983, 286, 990, 1156]

(Volume VII, page 439)

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