Lives of the fellows

Wilfrid Warren

b.11 October 1910 d.8 January 1991
MRCS LRCP(1935) BChir Cantab(1935) MB(1936) DPM(1946) MTX(l948) MRCP(1967) FRCPsych(1971) FRCP(1972)

Wilfrid Warren was the son of Frank Warren FSA JP and his wife Maud, née Stratton. He was born at Winchester, educated at Sherborne School, and did his medical training at Cambridge University and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. After qualification he was house physician at Bart’s and later at the Infants’ Hospital, Vincent Square.

The following years, 1937-39, were eventful. He was appointed physician to the City Hospital, Plymouth, ‘. . . to earn £450 p.a. in order to marry Elizabeth Margaret Park (Betty).’ He married Betty on 24 September 1938; the marriage having been delayed because of severe hepatitis, as a result of which he spent 19 weeks in hospital. Then, in January 1938, he joined the supplementary reserve of the RNVR to await the outbreak of the second world war.

After general duties at Plymouth, Wilfrid was posted to Combined Operations and took part in the landings at Sicily and Salerno. His interest in psychiatry developed and in 1943 he was appointed assistant psychiatrist at Chatham under surgeon-captain Desmond Curran Munks Roll, Vol.VIII, p.118]. He ended his service in January 1946 with the rank of surgeon-lieutenant commander.

The war over, Wilfrid began his career in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, London, and was appointed physician (consultant psychiatrist) to the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the Maudsley in 1948. Initially a general adult psychiatrist, in 1949 Wilfrid opened an adolescent inpatient unit with Kenneth Cameron in order to separate adolescents from adults. In 1951 he opened up the Brixton Child Guidance Unit and gave up general psychiatry to concentrate on children and adolescents.

On Kenneth Cameron’s death in 1963, Wilfrid became head of the childrens’ department at the Maudsley and worked there until his retirement in 1975. He was an excellent clinician, much in demand for his opinion on difficult problems, and his wide knowledge and sound, balanced judgement served as a model of practice for junior colleagues and students.

Wilfrid was a leader in his specialty; he became chairman of the child psychiatry specialist section of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1959-61, and president of the section of psychiatry at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1970-71. He was also consultant adviser in child and adolescent psychiatry to the Ministry of Health from 1961 until his retirement and took pride in his appointment as civilian consultant in child psychiatry to the British Army, 1960-75.

He was known and respected internationally, being secretary of the specialist section of child and adolescent psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association, 1967-75, and his contribution to his specialty was recognized by honours from countries as far afield as the USA, Argentina and Finland.

Throughout his career he was an excellent committee man, serving on many influential committees. He was manager of Duncroft Approved School from 1955-80 and chairman from 1968-80. He was devoted to the joint Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals, and was chairman of the medical committee from 1962-65.

Perhaps his most arduous administrative appointment was that of treasurer of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association and, later, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1962-79. With Sir Martin Roth, the president, he helped steer the new Royal College of Psychiatrists through its very difficult financial beginnings - with interest rates at 17% - to its eventual healthy existence and secure building in Belgrave Square. His services to his College were recognized by appointment as vice-president, 1974-76, and the conferment of an honorary fellowship in 1979.

Wilfrid Warren was a quiet, generous man with an integrity which earned the respect of generations of patients and colleagues. He was not an easy man to know well, but those who came close to him discovered an unsuspected warmth, kindness and human concern, together with an unswerving loyalty to friends and to his chosen profession. Having seen action in small ships during the war, Wilfrid maintained those values of discipline, comradeship and silent strength which he had found in the Navy. A whimsical, wry sense of humour enlivened his selfless and often severe devotion to duty, to attention to detail and a demand for scrupulous accuracy. He made it clear that he had no use for slackers.

Wilfrid did not seek the limelight and much of what he achieved as a physician in voluntary work was unknown to most of his contemporaries. Very many nurses, teachers, social workers and junior psychiatrists have been grateful to him for painstaking teaching, undemonstrative guidance and personal help. He had a rare capacity to value and acknowledge approaches which differed from his own.

His interests outside his profession were solitary - reading, gardening and music. A one-time chorister, he delighted in his meticulous recordings of Bach. He and Betty had two children, a son Peter who is now a distinguished physician in Canada and a daughter, Ann. His wife, children and grandchildren survived him.

C M B Pare
L A Hersov

[Brit.med.J., 1991,303,1131]

(Volume IX, page 557)

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