Lives of the fellows

Leslie Watson

b.14 December 1907 d.18 October 1993
MB ChB Leeds(1940) MRCP(1941) MD(1942) FRCP(1969)

Leslie Watson was born in Odsal, Bradford, Yorkshire, where his father Albert Watson was a master cabinet maker and his mother Jane, née Cheffins, was the daughter of a cabinet maker. He was educated at Thornton Grammar School and, at the age of 14, apprenticed as a cabinet maker in his father’s business in Bradford. In his early 20’s he joined the Royal Air Force, where he spent six years and trained as a fighter pilot. A further change of heart found him studying medicine at Leeds University, where he qualified with honours, and his first post was as house physician at Leeds General Infirmary.

With the advent of war, he was called up for military service but rejected as unfit owing to a chronic chest complaint. He rapidly advanced through a series of posts at the Infirmary, being awarded the Centenary and Hardwick fellowship in medicine. In 1942 he became resident medical officer, a prestigious position at that time. Such was the regard of his seniors that within a couple of years, at the early age of 36, he was appointed the first consultant physician to a wide area of the West Riding, based on Wakefield, Pontefract and Goole. These were days when the responsibility of a consulting physician was all embracing and included sick children (paediatrics was a term not yet in use), dermatology, and many wards filled with the elderly and chronic sick. This merely presented an acceptable and enjoyable challenge to a man of Leslie’s style and vision.

With the arrival and development of the NHS, Leslie’s work gradually concentrated on the Pontefract Infirmary and he found more time for his many other interests. He loved cars and sampled many, his favourite being a Bugatti. He was interested in church organs and also an amateur organist; enjoyed wine making, fly fishing, photography and especially basic engineering - his meticulously kept workshop was an eye opener.

He married Valerie Margot Waddilove in 1963 and they had one daughter. On his retirement to Beamsley in the Yorkshire Dales, he continued his wine making and engineering, both to the pleasure and convenience of many local friends; no problem was too difficult and he always had the appropriate tools and expertise. But Leslie liked nothing better than to entertain his friends in casual chat and reminiscence, and with a glass of his special wine in hand the idle minutes became memorable occasions: old times and exploits, old teachers and their personal foibles, lost nothing in their telling. He died peacefully, in his sleep, on St Luke’s Eve - a few weeks short of his 86th birthday.

C L Davidson

[Brit.med.J., 1993,307,1419]

(Volume IX, page 561)

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