Lives of the fellows

Anthony James Daly

b.3 August 1913 d.25 June 2006
MB BChir Cantab(1938) MRCS LRCP(1938) MD(1944) MRCP(1946) FRCP(1966)

Tony Daly was a consultant physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. He was born in Great Portland Street, London, the son of Ashley Skeffington Daly, an anaesthetist at the London Hospital, and Hilda Maude James, the daughter of Arthur Coleridge James, scholar and schoolmaster at Eton College. He had one sister, Pat. Ashley was the first president of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons. During the First World War he had devised an ether cocktail as an anaesthetic; during the Second World War he held high medical rank in the British Army. Tony’s paternal grandfather was a general practitioner in Hackney and he had come to London from Ireland.

Tony was educated at St Wilfred’s Preparatory School at Seaford and then Loretto Public School in Scotland. He became head prefect and edited the magazine The Lorettonian. He played in the school first cricket team and in 1933 featured in Wisden for hitting a series of sixes while playing Fettes; he secured the fourth highest batting average of 71.

Tony read medicine at King’s College, Cambridge, where, unusually for those days, he gained a first in psychology. He went to the London Hospital (now the Royal London) with the Price scholarship. He qualified MB BCh in 1938 and in the following year worked as clinical assistant, house surgeon and pathology assistant. He met a young nurse, Yvette Adrienne Kelly, the daughter of a Ship’s Officer, William Kelly. He was a keen climber of mountains in the north of England and in the Alps.

Tony joined the RAMC at the outbreak of the war and served in the Middle East, West Africa, Italy and Germany. He was mentioned in despatches for gallantry and bravery while tending the wounded on the beaches of Khora Sfakion (Skafia) during the evacuation of Crete and thereafter he had a hatred of war. While in the Gambia he completed his MD thesis entitled ‘A study in malaria in the Gambia’. He learned Italian. Yvette was posted to the Middle East in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps and unusually they obtained permission to marry, in a tent and in a sandstorm in the Egyptian desert on 26 February 1942. They honeymooned in Luxor and spent the next 64 years together as husband and wife. Tony, a keen artist, prepared a series of cartoons and landscapes during this time and sometimes in his later years he was spied drawing cartoons of those who were with him in the lecture theatre.

After the war, in which Tony had gained the rank of major, with Yvette he settled in a flat in Weymouth Street and their three children, Jane, Ashley and Nick, were born in London. Tony returned to the London as medical first assistant in 1945. He was subsequently a medical registrar and passed the MRCP in 1946.

In 1948 Tony was appointed consultant physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital; he joined Clifford Fuller [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.143] and Charles Seward and after their retirement Tony remained senior physician for many years. The National Health Service was created shortly afterwards. From their flat in Southernhay they moved to Little Newcombes at nearby Newton St Cyres. In 1956 he became a Fellow of the College and in the early sixties a senior physician.

An elegant physician in pin stripe suit and wearing a buttonhole from his garden, his special interests included cardiology and rare and infectious diseases. He chaired the medical division and other hospital committees and was President of the Devon and Exeter Medical Society from 1976 to 1977. He was a keen supporter of continuing medical education in Exeter and much involved with the planning of the new hospital, where he remained physician to the isolation ward. He retired from the NHS in 1978, but continued in practice as adviser to the Midland Bank, the Civil Service and the Police Underwater Diving Team, and he served on industrial tribunals. He prepared statements from doctors and nurses about local medical history.

Tony was a keen horseman and he hunted with the Silverton foxhounds to which he was honorary doctor, and a keen fisherman and skier. He maintained his interest in the illnesses of the famous, including John Keats, Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnson and Beethoven, and listed other interests including the field sports of Devon, eighteenth century European history, Baroque music and modern oil painting. He took Open University courses in history, ancient and modern, and on his eightieth birthday gained a distinction for Homeric theology. He played the flute in the Women’s’ Institute Orchestra, painted, and continued his cartoon library. However, failing sight deprived him of faculty for his art and his involvement in the local Shakespeare Reading Society and poetry reading groups. He took the violin in his mid-eighties and talking books were a marvellous adventure for him.

Tony and Yvette moved to Aldeburgh to be near their daughter and he spent in the last few days in a nursing home where he died aged 92.

Christopher Gardner-Thorpe

(Volume XII, page web)

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