Lives of the fellows

Gerald Trevor Griffith Thomas

b.26 April 1916 d.27 May 1987
MRCS LRCP(1940) MB BChir Cantab(1940) MRCP(1944) FRCP(1966)

Gerald Thomas was born in Richmond. His father, Frederick Ernest Thomas, was a company director and his mother, Ida Marsh, was the daughter of a postmaster. He was educated at Colet Court Preparatory School, Berkhamsted School and Caius College, Cambridge. His clinical studies were undertaken at Guy’s Hospital, where he graduated in 1940, winning the Treasurer’s prize and the gold medal in medicine. During the latter part of the second world war he was medical tutor and registrar at Guy’s, then joined the RAF medical division from 1945-47. He had early shown an interest in cardiology and on leaving the RAF he entered the Institute of Cardiology, working with Paul Wood [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.456] as senior medical registrar until, 1949 when he became chief clinical assistant to the National Heart Hospital and physician to the special unit for rheumatism research at Taplow, based at the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital which in 1957 became the MRC’s rheumatism unit. He gained his membership of the College in 1944, followed by his election to the Fellowship in 1966. He was also a member of the British Cardiological Society and of the Association of Physicians.

Gerald Thomas was essentially a clinical cardiologist, serving the Windsor area in that capacity from 1949 until his retirement in 1981, well trusted by general practitioners and consultant colleagues. In addition, as cardiological consultant to the rheumatism unit working in collaboration with the local staff and, through our weekly National Heart Hospital visits, with Paul Wood, Wallace Brigden and Aubrey Leatham, he greatly contributed to a long-term research study of the natural course of rheumatic fever and its several aspects. This included the international multicentre controlled trial of aspirin, cortisone and ACTH, equally shared between 11 centres in Great Britain and 10 centres in the USA. From 1945-65 he was author or part-author of some 18 publications in this field, including four classics, but never stepping beyond his essential role as a wise and responsible cardiologist and clinician. Before rheumatic fever disappeared, about 1965, and during the later follow-up period, patients at Taplow, as well as those in the Windsor area, owed him a great deal. On retirement he continued to work as a locum consultant, examining medical officer, and occasionally in private practice, to the great benefit of the NHS and his patients, and his own immense satisfaction. He was a retiring and most modest person who accomplished a great deal in the areas he worked in; and as a recording angel always accurate and caring during the death throes of rheumatic fever in the western world. He acquired a love for crème brûlée during his years at Caius College and never lost it; it was, he said, his College’s ‘favourite duff.

In later life Gerald moved to Padstow in Cornwall. He married Annabella Doogan, daughter of a farmer, in 1945 and they had three children, a son and two daughters: Richard, Geraldine and Caroline. None of his children went into medicine: Geraldine became an actress, married with one daughter; Caroline, also married with one daughter, runs her own public relations company; and Richard is managing director of a music company. They all survived him, together with his wife Patsy.

EGL Bywaters

[Brit.med.J., 1987,295,278]

(Volume VIII, page 502)

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