Lives of the fellows

Ian Mcdougall Guthrie Stewart

b.23 December 1914 d.9 June 1988
MRCS LRCP(1939) MB BS Lond(1940) MRCP(1947) MD(1949) FRCP(1966)

Ian Stewart was born at Hutton in Essex. His father, James Guthrie Stewart, was a civil servant and his mother, Katherine Mary, née Mundle, was the daughter of a Congregational minister.

Ian was educated at Berkhamsted School, Hertfordshire. He trained for medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London, qualified in 1939, and almost immediately joined the RAMC. After the war he continued his education, holding house posts at Guy’s, the Brompton Hôpital, and Bristol Royal Infirmary, before being appointed consultant physician to the Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, in 1953, a post he held until his retirement from the NHS in 1980.

Ian Stewart had remarkable physical and intellectual energy, addressing many clinical and research problems with insight and careful analysis. His main clinical interests were in diabetes mellitus and hypertension. He was instrumental in the development of a major diabetic service for the district, and made many important observations on the management of hypertension, in particular the association between hypertension, its treatment, and ischaemic heart disease. He was in much demand as a lecturer, both nationally and internationally, and was always welcomed with respect and affection.

He was a member of the Council of the British Heart Foundation, and a member of the cardiology committee of the College. He also served on the advisory committee of the Prescribes' Journal for many years. Ian was very interested in medical education and he planned the development of the excellent postgraduate medical centre in Blackpool, where he was tutor for many years. After retirement he remained active in private practice and, in addition, was invited to take up a year’s appointment as professor of medicine in the University of Malta.

Almost as if his professional life were not enough to fulfill him, Ian had a wide range of interests and commitments outside medicine. At medical school he played rugby for Guy’s, where his career was described as ‘brilliant and outstanding’ - interrupted only by a series of fractures. His reluctance to shirk a challenge, be it intellectual or physical, was evident even at that time.

At the beginning of the 1939-45 war he was deeply affected by the loss of a brother. He served in the RAMC, being posted to the 1st Welsh Regiment. He was twice mentioned in despatches and was taken prisoner in Crete. During this period his normally restless nature was channelled into supporting his fellow prisoners, who came near to worshipping him. For this he was punished by his captors who segregated him from his fellows, confining him to the company of prisoners who spoke no English. He responded, characteristically, by learning not only survival techniques but also French, in which he became fluent, and German. He wrote a definitive history of The Struggle for Crete, London, OUP,1966, which was widely praised as one of the best campaign descriptions ever published. His short contribution to Beyond Survival, a symposium edited by Guthrie Moore, provided those who knew him with an unexpected insight into his philosophy of life.

After the war, he maintained and developed his interest in history, particularly in military history and he was very widely read. His interest in sport was also maintained; at Bristol he began a second career - parallel to medicine - as a sports commentator. Over the next 20 years he gave over 500 radio broadcasts, many on rugby union football.

Throughout his professional career Ian also showed an interest in medico-legal matters. He thrived on the cut-and-thrust of courtroom debate and contention and at one stage, when somewhat disenchanted with the National Health Service, he toyed with the idea of taking up law as a first profession. However, he conceded that although he would have enjoyed it thoroughly, he might have lost as many cases as he won.

Ian Stewart will always be remembered, by those who knew him, for his wit, his kindness and lack of malice which, with his extreme determination, provided an endearing combination. His first marriage, to Betty Boff in 1947, ended in divorce in 1972. They had a son, Simon, who is a consultant gynaecologist. He was survived by him, and by his second wife, Marilyn, and their children, Sarah and Adrian.

FI Lee

[Brit.med.J., 1988,297,613; Guy's Hosp. Gaz., Oct 1988,167-8]

(Volume VIII, page 485)

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