Lives of the fellows

Simon Solomon Yudkin

b.28 March 1914 d.15 April 1968
MRCS LRCP(1937) MB BS Lond(1937) MRCP(1938) PhD(1944) DCH Eng(1945) FRCP(1964)

Simon Solomon Yudkin (known to his friends as ‘Sam’) was born in London, the son of a furrier. He received his early education in the East End at Sigdon Road Elementary School and Hackney Down Secondary School. He studied medicine at University College and University College Hospital Medical School, whence he graduated in 1937. He was a house physician at UCH, and then moved quickly into paediatrics, obtaining resident posts at the Hospital for Children in Tite Street, Chelsea, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, Hackney Road, and at the West London Hospital. He became MRCP in 1938. At the outbreak of war in 1939, he returned to UCH, spending part of his time on research into the influence of vitamin A on dark adaptation - a subject relevant to night flying, then so important to the defence of Britain - and the remaining part of his time in the first-aid post at UCH, dealing with casualties of the German blitz on London. From 1941-46 he served with the Royal Air Force, mainly as a member of their nutrition team. After the war he obtained a Nuffield Fellowship and spent a year in neonatal research with Clement A. Smith at the Boston Lying-in Hospital.

In 1949 he was appointed consultant paediatrician at the Whittington Hospital and it was there he did his most important work. He established an excellent department which grew from small beginnings into one of the most active in London. Its emphasis was in providing technically expert, sympathetic care for the poor children of the area, for whom Sam Yudkin had a passionate concern. From an early stage, students from UCH were seconded to Yudkin’s unit, and many owed the greater part of their education in paediatrics to his excellent teaching. Not a few were inspired by him to become paediatricians. In 1967, little more than a year before his death, he was appointed consultant paediatrician at UCH.

His work for children extended far beyond the hospital. He was Chairman of the National Society of Children’s Nurseries. He formed the Pre-School Child Enquiry Group and the Council for Children’s Welfare. He had a great sympathy for the welfare of immigrant children, never forgetting that his mother ‘never learned to speak English properly and spoke Yiddish to me till the day she died’. His many publications included two books for parents All our Children: A Book for Parents and Helping your Child to Get Well. With Anthea Holme he published another book entitled Working Mothers and their Children. He obtained a PhD for a thesis on dark adaptation and was elected FRCP in 1964.

In 1939 he married Cecily Freeman and had two children, both of whom qualified in medicine.

At the age of 54 he died suddenly of a coronary occlusion when out on a country walk.

LB Strang

[Brit.med.J., 1968, 2, 370, 498 & 4, 330; Lancet, 1, 928; Times, 17 Apr 1968; Guardian, 17 Apr 1968; Nursery J., 1968, 57, 12-15; Roy. Soc. Health J., June 1968]

(Volume VI, page 488)

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