Lives of the fellows

John Francis Penrose Skrimshire

b.13 January 1918 d.28 April 1990
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BChir Cantab(1942) MRCP(1947) MD(1953) FRCP(1968)

John Skrimshire was born in Bangalore, India, where his father was an ophthalmic surgeon in the Army. He was brought home to England when he was two years old and in due course went to Gresham's School, Holt, from where he won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge. He won a hockey blue, played cricket to a high level, and gained first class honours in the national science tripos Part 1. He then entered the medical school at St Thomas' Hospital, London. Soon after qualification he joined the RAMC and saw service in West Africa and India, retiring with the rank of major.

On demobilization he was appointed medical registrar at St Thomas’ and also resident assistant physician - which was, at that time, the leading post in the hospital below consultant rank - before being appointed physician at Worthing, Sussex. In addition to his work as a clinician, he played a leading role in both the hospital and the region when the various reorganizations of the National Health Service were being introduced in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was an outstanding clinician whose opinion was widely sought and respected.

He married Betty Harvie Anderson OBE TD MP, a senior member of Parliament, in 1960. Their very happy marriage was sadly cut short by her untimely death soon after she was elevated to the peerage as Baroness Skrimshaw. They had no children.

John represented that early group of consultants in the NHS who steered provincial medicine and surgery to high accomplishment. After retirement, he went to live in Betty’s lovely Adam house in Quarter, by Denny, Stirlingshire, with his large bull mastiff. He served on the council of the National Trust in Scotland and was a member of the Scottish National Art Collections Fund. Friendship, music, painting, art and travel were important parts of his strenuous life. A life which was marred towards the end by severe emphysema.

H J Anderson

[Brit.med.J., 1990,30l,337]

(Volume IX, page 476)

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