Lives of the fellows

John Brindley Lyon

b.16 September 1919 d.2 November 2004
MRCS LRCP(1943) MB BChir Cantab(1944) MA(1945) MRCP(1949) MD(1957) FRCP(1969)

John Lyon was a consultant dermatologist to the Ipswich Hospital Group who served with distinction for nearly three decades. He was born in Guildford, Surrey, and was educated at Charterhouse School, where he excelled both academically (in sciences and languages) and in all sports, especially as captain of football. He went on to Caius College, Cambridge, and then completed his medical training at Westminster Hospital, London.

During the second world war he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, landing on the second day of the Normandy invasion and setting up a first aid post in a small hotel right on the beach, aptly named Lyon-sur-Mer. He treated wounded British soldiers, German prisoners of war and local French people as the nearest hospital had been hit. Being fluent in both French and German he was especially useful as Allied forces pushed on to the Rhine. As acting senior medical officer in the Paderborn area, he was in charge of prisoner of war hospitals from 1945 to 1946 and from 1946 to 1947 was in charge of 50 beds for the treatment of skin and venereal diseases.

Demobilised with the rank of captain, he took up a series of medical registrar posts, firstly at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, progressing to senior medical registrar at Westminster Hospital. During this period at Westminster he was proud to be invited with his wife to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, where he was presented to the late King George VI by a patient who had been under his care. He was offered the chance to go to the States and accepted a fellowship in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, returning to become clinical assistant at St John's Hospital for Diseases of the Skin.

It was at this point that, as a lover of the countryside and wildlife, he moved with his wife and two young daughters to the country and accepted his most senior appointment as consultant dermatologist, Ipswich Hospital Group, with charge of venereal disease clinics. Here he worked tirelessly and with infinite patience, kindness and compassion for almost three decades, healing people with a range of skin complaints. For many of those early years he was the only consultant dermatologist in Suffolk and covered a wide area. He prided himself on keeping his dermatological NHS waiting list to two weeks. Following completion of his MD thesis on dermatitis due to synthetic detergents in 1957, he became a Fellow of the College in 1969.

During this time he valued and enjoyed meeting his colleagues at dermatological and pharmaceutical meetings to compare case studies, clinical findings and the latest treatments. He wrote various articles on the effects of detergents on the skin, on turban tumour of the scalp and on insect bites and stings. Because of his extensive dermatological knowledge his advice was often sought. During the filming of the James Bond film Goldfinger, his advice was followed regarding how much gold paint could be safely painted on to a body's skin surface without ill effect.

Outside work, he was first and foremost a family man, a keen ornithologist and a lifelong member of the RSPB. He continued playing sports and, being ambidextrous, brought a lot of fun and unorthodox shots to any ball game. He enjoyed a good joke, enthusiastically supported Ipswich Town FC and, when time allowed, enjoyed fishing, shooting and golf.

A true professional, a gentleman, a cool head in a crisis, he was a good listener and patients responded to his quiet charm and sympathetic advice. He was a perfectionist in all things and widely known for wearing an impressive collection of bow ties, which were both colourful and practical whilst he worked. He, himself, would like to be remembered for always giving of his best - no matter how difficult the task.

John is survived by his Scottish wife, Katherine, whom he met in Germany during the war and with whom he was happily married for 58 years, and his two daughters, Jane and Anne. A bench will be placed overlooking the reed beds on North Warren RSPB reserve in Suffolk in his memory.

Jane Hall
Anne Wright

(Volume XII, page web)

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