Lives of the fellows

David Anthony Lillicrap

b.26 October 1930 d.11 January 2004
BM BCh Oxon(1956) MRCP(1959) FRCP(1974)

David Lillicrap was consultant physician to the Thanet group of hospitals for 25 years from his appointment in 1966. In spite of rigorous academic training - he had a BA with first class honours from Oxford, had completed house, medical registrar and senior registrar posts at Guy's Hospital, and had spent a year as fellow in medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore - he opted to work in a peripheral hospital, rather than continue in a teaching hospital environment. This proved to be an enlightened decision, as his character was ideally suited to the challenges generated by his new position, with the result that his life was both productive and fulfilling.

His training had been both in general medicine and endocrinology, thus he was able to set up an endocrine service for east Kent, which he ran for his working life. He ensured that it was of the highest quality by keeping abreast of all the latest developments, by liaising with a wide circle of friends and colleagues in endocrinology, and regularly attending national meetings and seminars in the subspecialty. However, most of his workload was of a general medical nature and it was within this broad specialty that he was determined to offer the best possible service for his patients as individuals and collectively for the local population. His strategic vision was to modernise the several relatively small local hospitals which then served the Isle of Thanet and centralise them into one large unit serving the whole area. In this he was a prime mover amongst a small group of like-minded colleagues who served his vision. Undoubtedly, it was David Lillicrap's qualities of leadership, his energy and single-mindedness, along with his powers of persuasion, that helped to overcome the many obstacles that were thrown up by the local community and the medical establishment. Finally, the concept came to fruition towards the end of his working life with the building of the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

At a departmental level, he was fortunate that, on appointment, he joined two physicians who were soon to retire and who gave him free reign to initiate the modernisation of the general medical service. To this end he ensured the appointment of several younger colleagues, who worked happily together and who wished to evolve a first class service. He oversaw a significant increase in the number of all grades of junior staff and finally the secondment of medical students, teaching being one of his fortes.

Within two years of his appointment, he had galvanized the local community into raising funds to build and run a coronary care unit, which he administered and funded by voluntary subscriptions until he retired. However, his tour de force was undertaken with the late H Sterndale, consultant haematologist, and was the establishment of a leukaemia and lymphoma unit, which participated in all the appropriate national treatment trials, and was sustained by charitable work. This added to the burden of his already oversubscribed committee duties, both at regional and national levels.

Apart from his onerous NHS work, David Lillicrap had a thriving private practice, had the energy to be an active rotarian and freemason, and was an enthusiastic dinghy sailor and squash player. However, the bedrock of his life was his wife, Gwyneth, and their family, and his Christian faith, which permeated all aspects of his life. On retirement Gwyneth and he travelled extensively, busied themselves with charitable activities and undertook voluntary work in their local church. They had one daughter and three sons, two of whom were recently ordained into the Church of England.

Brian Cocking

(Volume XI, page 337)

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