Lives of the fellows

William Alan Wiles

b.5 May 1935 d.29 June 1993
MB ChB Birm(1970) MRCP(1973) FRCP(1983)

Alan Wiles was born in Nottingham, England, where his father George William Wiles was an accountant, he was educated at High Pavement Grammar School and emigrated to Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - in 1959 to join the British South Africa Police. In 1963 he decided that he wanted to qualify as a doctor but he lacked the necessary science qualifications. With great perseverance he managed to obtain four science ‘O’ levels and two ‘A’ level passes in 18 months while still working with the BSAP. In 1965 he entered the University of Rhodesia as a mature student and graduated at the age of 35 - being affectionately known to the students as ‘Dad’.

His only source of income during his first year at university came from a steady Saturday job at Borrowdale Race Course and relieving duties at the Police Camp. He studied hard and in his third year obtained honours in physiology and biochemistry. When the other students took their ‘long vacs’ he had to work to pay his fees for the ensuing year. The inmates of Police HQ had good reason to remember his Friday night homework before they scooped the ‘Super Pool’ at the race course; Alan had correctly forecast all six winning horses for that particular race permutation.

In 1970 he was awarded a Nuffield scholarship which enabled him to take a three-month study course at Birmingham University, England. When the finals of the medical faculty were published Alan was rewarded for his long years of struggle - graduating in medicine with honours in surgery. He then returned to Nottingham, his home town, for a year’s appointment as a houseman. He subsequently worked as SHO and registrar at Nottingham General Hospital under J R A Mitchell, foundation professor of medicine at Nottingham University.

He married Colette, daughter of Robert Fowler Paul, a retired police officer, in 1971 and they had one son.

On his return to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1973 he worked first for the government hospital in Salisbury - now Harare - as a senior registrar in medicine. He later moved as a lecturer to the department of medicine in the University of Rhodesia medical school. His special interests were infectious diseases, gastroenterology and medical education. He published six research papers and was particularly stimulated by difficult diagnoses. He excelled as a clinician and bedside teacher and gave many hours of extra coaching to his students, who nicknamed him ‘Foxy’. In 1975 he was appointed honorary lecturer of B Pharmacy 111 students.

In 1983 he was elected to the Fellowship of the College; a proud moment for the former policeman. He remained at the University medical school until 1988 when he entered private practice as a consultant physician. Like many others, he overworked and neglected his own health. He had contracted hepatitis B in the late 1970s but despite struggling with cancer of the liver he was attending to patients until two weeks prior to his death.

Alan Wiles was a kind and compassionate man, a dedicated doctor, talented clinician and a gifted teacher. His leisure interests included an avid interest in horse racing and he was honorary medical officer to Borrowdale Race Course for many years. He enjoyed many sports, especially cricket.

C Wiles

(Volume IX, page 583)

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