Lives of the fellows

Edward James Starbuck Woolley

b.12 July 1909 d.6 February 1972
OBE(1945) VRD MB BS Lond(1933) MRCP(1935) FRCP(1962)

John Woolley, as he was known, was born at Surbiton, the son of a general practitioner, and received his scholastic education at Wellingborough. Thereafter he went to King’s College, London, and St. George’s Hospital where he was awarded the Sir Francis Laking Memorial prize. He was always fond of the sea and before starting his house officer appointments he went to the Far East as a ship’s surgeon. At St. George’s he was medical registrar and was elected to the Membership in 1935.

In 1937 he left St. George’s and joined Sir Douglas Hubble in general practice in Derby in which county his grandfather had practised. He was appointed physician to the Derbyshire Hospital for Sick Children and paediatrician to the Derbyshire Hospital for Women in 1938, and became deeply interested in diseases of children.

He had joined the RNVR before the 1939-45 war and at the outbreak of hostilities he was at sea on training manoeuvres. His ship was immediately sent to Nova Scotia and he had a varied six years on active service. He was in destroyers for a time and served as a physician for three years at Haslar, Barrow Gurney and Stonehouse naval hospitals. For two years he was in command of the atlantic island of Tristan de Cunha, where he won the universal affection and respect of the inhabitants and in 1945 was appointed OBE in recognition of his distinguished service while there. He published an excellent paper in the Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service on the health of the civilian population on the island.

Woolley returned to his practice and his hospital work in Derby at the end of 1945 and accepted the additional appointment of physician to the Derby City Hospital. With the advent of the National Health Service in 1948 he gave up general practice and was appointed physician to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. He proved himself an excellent general physician and his professional abilities, kindness and courtesy brought him a large consulting practice. In due course this necessitated giving up the paediatric work he had so much enjoyed.

Short in build he had a naturally cheerful nature and a warmth that brought him many friends. Unhappily he developed rectal cancer and despite radical surgery which he faced with exemplary courage, he did not long survive the operation.

He married Vivien Madeline, the daughter of Henry Phillips, a mining engineer. There were two sons and two daughters of the marriage.

AGW Whitfield

[Brit.med.J., 1972, 1, 695: Lancet, 1972, 1, 801]

(Volume VI, page 475)

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