Lives of the fellows

Thomas Copeland Studdert

b.13 November 1918 d.1 May 1982
MB BS Durh(1941) MRCP(1943) MD(1945) FRCP(1959)

Tom Studdert was born in Wylam upon Tyne. His father, Thomas George Studdert, was an optician practising in Newcastle. His mother was Eleanor, daughter of James Gibson, a corn merchant. He was married in 1945 to Mary Felicia, daughter of Major The Hon. Wellesley Fitzroy Somerset. They had three sons. Tom Studdert went to preparatory school in Newcastle and then to Sedbergh, where one of his most valued achievements was a prize for bird photography, an interest which he resumed in his retirement. He went to medical school in Newcastle and qualified in 1941, with first class honours. He attained distinction in medicine, surgery and midwifery. He worked as house physician and medical registrar in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, until he joined the Royal Air Force in 1943. Until 1945 he served as squadron medical officer in coastal and bomber commands and was posted to West Africa. There he enjoyed his work and took the opportunity to study tropical medicine, developing an interest in infectious diseases and gathering material that formed the basis of his MD thesis. He completed his service career with a year as squadron leader (medical specialist) in the RAF hospital in Ranceby.

On return to civilian life, Tom Studdert spent a short time in Newcastle and was then appointed medical registrar to the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, where he worked till he retired. In 1948 he became a consultant physician to the East Cumberland group of hospitals and set about developing two small wards into a first class medical unit, which soon attracted final year students from Newcastle to work as clinical clerks, and often to return as house physicians. These young colleagues were quick to recognize Tommy’s superlative gifts as a teacher of clinical medicine, a role in which he was always happy. His interests in medicine were wide but in his early years in Carlisle he developed his expertise in treating cases of meningitis and poliomyelitis. He was kept very busy by his general practitioner colleagues who valued his help in domiciliary consultations. In this work he travelled all over Cumberland and north Westmorland and became specially interested in rural medicine. This led to his original contributions on the subject of ‘farmer’s lung’, and to a study of zoonoses in which he collaborated with veterinary colleagues. His medical school asked him to lecture on both these subjects, and also invited him to examine in the final MB examination. Although he was no great enthusiast for administrative work he served for a while as a member of the East Cumberland Hospital Management Committee, and in 1957 he was chairman of the medical staff in Cumberland. He had a very successful spell as postgraduate clinical tutor, and acted as deputy representative for the College in the northern region. He was also a committee member of the Regional Association of Physicians, and served for a year as president of the Carlisle Medical Society.

In 1967 he had a myocardial infarct. From this he made a good recovery and characteristically developed an interest in cardiology, which inspired him to establish and administer the coronary care unit and cardiac arrest teams in the Cumberland Infirmary. In 1975 while returning from a College dinner he was involved in a major train crash at Nuneaton. He was trapped in the wreckage and lost the fore part of one foot. This, together with osteoarthritis of his hips and angina, made life difficult, but he continued to work, cheerful, uncomplaining, and always ready to take a humorous view of his disabilities. He retired from his consultant appointment in 1979 but continued to see patients at his home until the day before he died. His retirement enabled him to spend time in his garden of which he was justly proud. He also developed his old interest in ornithology. His death came suddenly in the garden of his home on the outskirts of Carlisle.

Tommy was a general physician in the best tradition, much loved by his patients, who appreciated the broad and human interest which he showed in them, as well as the skill with which he helped them. His colleagues valued him greatly for his wisdom, courage, friendship and good humour, but perhaps most of all for the splendid memory with which he enhanced his professional skills and enlivened many a meeting. He was a devoted husband and father, and a generous, cheerful and understanding friend and colleague.

CF Rolland

[, 1982, 284, 1778, 1943; 285, 221]

(Volume VII, page 558)

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