Lives of the fellows

John Edmund Royds

b.19 November 1915 d.12 October 1990
MB ChB St Andrews(1938) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1970)

John Royds was born at Rutherglen, Scotland, near Glasgow, the son of Robert Royds, a consultant engineer. His mother Hannah, née Davies, was the daughter of a textile engineer. He was educated at the Grove Academy, Dundee, and at the University of St Andrews. He returned across the Firth of Tay to do clinical studies at Dundee Royal Infirmary, graduating with honours, which was followed by posts as house surgeon at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital and house physician at the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital. As soon as possible, he volunteered for the RAMC and saw field service in Norway in 1940. After landing in Europe on D-Day, he served there from June 1944. He was promoted to the rank of major and acting lieutenant colonel and became DADMS to the 15th (Scottish) Division, being mentioned in despatches in 1945.

On demobilization John Royds began his long association with Ashford Hospital, Middlesex. First with a six-month attachment as trainee physician to Alan Barham Carter, followed by two years as registrar and nearly four years as senior registrar. At that time, before formal rotation schemes, it was very difficult for senior registrars in non-teaching hospitals to make further progress and he was one of many to go abroad - becoming physician to the Abbott Clinic in Winnipeg, Canada, from 1951-53. Happily, both for John and for the hospital, a consultant vacancy arose at Ashford Hospital in 1953 and John was appointed.

As a physician he was both respected and loved throughout the hospital and its district. His opinions were based on patient and thorough history-taking and clinical examination, virtues which he passed on to generations of house physicians, registrars and senior colleagues. As Barham Carter wrote, in his obituary notice in the BMJ, John was ‘. .. the physician we would all like to be.’

John Royds published on clinical topics as a consultant, particularly on myelomatosis, but his special interest was in medical administration. Not only was he chairman of the hospital’s medical staff committee but also vice-chairman of the Staines and District hospital management committee for several years, until it disappeared in the 1974 NHS reorganization. As a committee chairman he was superb, always in control but at the same time allowing full rein for discussion, and then clearly specifying the outcome of the debate at the end. As an administrator, doctor and personality, he contributed enormously to the atmosphere of friendliness and cooperation at Ashford which few hospitals could match.

After retirement from Ashford, he was a successful and much appreciated chairman of the Mid-Surrey district health association for five years - at a time of great difficulty for the NHS. He was indeed invited to continue in this post after the normal age of retirement but was unable to do so because of declining health.

John lived a full life outside medicine. He captained his university at association football, he appreciated music and enjoyed gardening -particularly plant propagation. He was devoted to his wife Ailsa and she in turn fortified him in his struggle with painful illness.

True to his Scottish roots, he was an Elder for many years at the Trinity United Reformed Church in Slough. His only son, Robin, qualified in medicine in 1967 and obtained his membership of the College in 1970 - the same year in which John himself was elected to the fellowship. Robin is now a clinical pharmacologist in Princeton, USA, and adviser to the government there on immunological problems of oncology; his achievements gave John particular pride and pleasure.

D J Holdstock

[Brit.med.J., 1990,301,1157]

(Volume IX, page 455)

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