Lives of the fellows

Joseph Benn

b.19 December 1909 d.22 May 1998
MB ChB Leeds(1934) MD(1944) MRCP(1944) FRCP(1967)

Joe Benn was a consultant physician in Taunton, specialising in diseases of the chest, at a time when this covered both respiratory medicine and cardiology. He was born in Liverpool, the son of a butcher, and was educated and spent his childhood in Yorkshire. From Mirfield Grammar School he went on to qualify in medicine from Leeds in 1934 and worked in Bradford and Nottingham before a spell in general practice up until the war.

He joined the RNVR just before the war and served as surgeon lieutenant commander during the war, spending three years at sea. He patrolled in the North Atlantic and was particularly proud to have been on the ship which took the King of Norway to safety. Later he made 13 trips to the beaches of Dunkirk.

After the war he decided that general practice was not for him and worked as a medical registrar at Bristol Royal Infirmary. He took up a post as consultant at Bridgwater and Minehead Hospitals in 1948 and at Taunton in 1949. He was consultant physician in Taunton for 25 years until his retirement and enjoyed his work enormously. He was a kind man and above all a clinician with a modest number of publications. He retired reluctantly at 65. After retiring he went back to help set up the Alfred Morris young disabled unit, which gave him great pleasure, and he went on doing locums and part time work for several years after that.

He met Pat, also a doctor, while in Bristol and they married and had two sons. Many of us wondered what he would do when he retired, as his job had been so important to him. He was a man of great passion in his life outside work. While he was working these included fishing, reading (particularly historical novels) and gardening. When he retired he carried on gardening and reading but also took up bird-watching and bridge, which both gave him great pleasure and made him new friends. Bird-watching was particularly important to him and led him to travel and visit many beautiful wild places both in England and abroad.

He remained active until days before his death following repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Jonathan Benn

(Volume XI, page 51)

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