Lives of the fellows

Sydney Brandon

b.20 September 1927 d.6 December 2001
MB BS Durh(1954) DCH(1956) MD(1960) DPM(1961) MRCPsych(1971) FRCPsych(1973) MRCP(1980) FRCP(1985)

Sydney Brandon was outstanding: even in his appearance he stood out. He was of short, stocky, 'pyknic' physique. He had a shock of white hair, but what was unmistakable was his long, bushy side-burns which, together with the inevitable bow-tie he sported, gave him the dash of an Edwardian toff. And if, perchance, he was hidden in a crowd, he could be located by his infectious chuckle, audible at least at a hundred paces. Despite being plagued in later years by ill health he always managed to retain his glow of cheerful optimism.

Sydney was born in Washington, county Durham. His father, Thomas Brandon, was a deputy colliery manager, and his mother, Rhoda May (née Rook), is described as a housewife. In 1950, Sydney married Joanne (née Watson), a lecturer in social work.

Brandon was educated at Rutherford College, Newcastle upon Tyne, and studied medicine at King's College, University of Durham, and at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where he graduated in 1954.

After graduation, Sydney became interested in paediatrics, but his face-to-face involvement with the behaviour of disturbed children led him into psychiatry which became his life's work. As a junior, he was appointed Nuffield research assistant in child health to the children's department, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where he worked from 1955 to 1959. In 1963 he worked as a research fellow in psychiatry, at the Columbia University, New York, and from 1964 to 1966 he served as a lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Newcastle. His later appointments were as Nuffield Foundation fellow in psychiatry (senior lecturer) at the University of Newcastle and as reader in psychiatry at the University of Manchester. Finally, in 1973, he was elected professor in psychiatry at the University of Leicester, a post he served with distinction until his retirement, after which he was created emeritus professor.

From 1982 until his death he served as civil consultant adviser to the Royal Air Force. He was singularly proud of his connections with the RAF, and he regularly attended the annual dinner of the RAF medical officers at the RAF Club, London.

His packed schedule still allowed space to give valuable service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. There he rose to the office of vice-president. He also sat on various important committees. Furthermore, in his time, he served as president of the section of psychiatry of the Royal Society of Medicine.

He was a prolific writer: his publications included papers on eating disorders, carbon monoxide poisoning, panic disorders and sexual deviations. His interest in post-traumatic disorder led him to visit Rwanda, helping counsel the surviving victims of the appalling genocide.

No picture of Sydney Brandon is complete without mentioning his interests and hobbies. He enjoyed the thrill of driving fast cars, but above all he was a bon viveur: he loved good food and good wines in the company of his friends. He had a passionate interest in the history of medicine and had a valuable and extensive collection of medical artefacts.

His wife, Joanne, predeceased him, but he is survived by his two daughters and his devoted friends.

Henry R Rollin


(Volume XI, page 76)

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