Lives of the fellows

Arthur Goronwy Watkins

b.19 March 1903 d.26 December 1990
CBE(1962) BSc Wales(1925) MRCS LRCP(1927) MB BS Lond(1928) MD(1930) MRCP(1930) FRCP(1943)LLD Wales(1981)

Arthur Goronwy Watkins was proud to be a Welshman. He was the son of Sir Percy Watkins LLD, Principal Secretary to the Welsh Board of Education, and was educated at Sidcot School, the University College of Wales, Cardiff, and University Hospital medical school, London. After postgraduate experience in paediatrics at University College Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, he returned to Cardiff to pursue a challenging consultant career in paediatrics with an honorary appointment at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and a lectureship at the Welsh National School of Medicine. At that time there was considerable opposition to the development of paediatrics as a specialty of medicine, so this choice involved difficulty at first and inevitable financial hardship. However, his friendly manner, spontaneous wit and ability as a speaker, soon endeared him to his colleagues. His approach to problems was always pragmatic but without compromise on essential matters. His prowess on the golf course also earned him friendship and admiration.

Since his student days he had been known as ‘Pop’ to everyone, a nickname which aptly characterized his fatherly care for his patients, their relatives, medical students and all who worked with him. As the first professor of child health in Wales, appointed in 1950, he most successfully encouraged a holistic approach to child health, so that those from various disciplines working in child care became an outstanding team under the umbrella of his extremely popular teaching. ‘Pop’ started the Welsh Paediatric Society and gave much support and encouragement to young paediatricians in Wales. His favourite aphorism - ‘To effect change, behave as a catalyst’ - enabled him to become a great influence in the development of the University of Wales and this continued after his retirement in 1968 when he became dean of medical postgraduate studies. He was honoured with the CBE and LLD Wales, and also received honours from overseas paediatric societies.

For over 60 years, ‘Pop’ invariably attended the annual meetings of the British Paediatric Association, chaired important sub-committees on infant nutrition and paediatric diagnostic nomenclature, and was its honorary treasurer for five years and its president from 1966-67. He was a Colonial Office Visitor to the West Indies in 1956 and to the Far East in 1959.

He married Aileen, daughter of Canon George Llewellyn, in 1933. They enjoyed theatre and classical music together and their happy home had an ever-open door to his colleagues, many friends, and overseas visitors to his department. Above all, they enjoyed their family of three daughters, a son, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

B D Corner

[Brit.med.J., 1991,302,844]

(Volume IX, page 559)

<< Back to List