Lives of the fellows

James Kevin Sarsfield

b.29 July 1941 d.15 October 2000
BA Cantab(1962) MB BChir(1965) MA(1965) MRCP(1968) MD(1974) FRCP(1983)

John Sarsfield was a consultant in Harrogate. He was born in Lancashire and qualified as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, gaining a first in the natural science tripos.

His MD thesis won him the Sir Lionel Whitby medal, awarded annually for the highest standard of laboratory work amongst the submitted theses of Cambridge University. In 1976 the then British Paediatric Association (BPA) honoured him with the Donald Patterson prize awarded for outstanding clinical research and publications by a paediatrician under the age of 35 years.

He held junior posts at UCH London and then Harrogate and York, followed by more senior posts in the paediatric departments of the University of Leeds. He was appointed consultant in Harrogate in 1976.

He shouldered a heavy clinical load and supplied a superb service to the children of Harrogate and their families. He also took his share of administrative and teaching duties, including ten years as postgraduate clinical tutor for Harrogate district.

He served on numerous committees, locally and nationally. He was, for example, president of Yorkshire regional Paediatric Society, a member of the RCP panel for the inspection of junior training posts, as well as the academic board of the BPA (from 1986 to 1989).

Medically his special interests were in respiratory disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis and allergy. These are reflected in his impressive list of publications.

In 1991 Jim took early retirement from the NHS, but he remained active as a paediatrician and fulfilled numerous locum posts in Ireland and a few also in Saudi Arabia.

Despite his academic brilliance and impressive intellect he remained unassuming, always considerate of patients, parents and staff and over many years earned the admiration and respect of nursing and medical colleagues.

Jirn's firmly held Catholic faith was never intrusive, but underpinned all his work and fortified him in his last years, during which he suffered greatly. A quiet gentle man with a gift for humour, a slow smile and a sideways look at life (probably a remnant of his Irish ancestry), Jim brought comfort to disabled children in his area. He worked, for example, as a voluntary medical officer on a Lourdes pilgrimage. He had a special interest in the young chronic sick and worked voluntarily on adoption panels.

His hobbies included photography, gardening and DIY, but it is as a quiet humorous conversationalist that I remember him best. He loved a song, a cigarette and a 'jar' with friends and family.

Jim is survived by his wife Geraldine, a former nurse, his four children and four grandchildren, with whom he shared an enviably happy family life. With his death, his family, his patients and his colleagues have suffered a grievous loss and British paediatrics too has lost one of its unsung but memorably talented servants.

Hugh Heggarty

[Brit.med.J., 321,200,1416]

(Volume XI, page 500)

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