Lives of the fellows

Cyril Percival Victorious Evans

b.27 April 1921 d.1 February 2007
OBE MB BS Sydney(1943) DTM(1946) FRCP(1978) FRACP FRACMA

Cyril Evans had a distinguished career in medicine and health administration, becoming deputy director general of health within the Australian Department of Health. Born in Sydney, the son of Harry Percival Evans, a clerk, Cyril attended Ryde School, before winning a scholarship to Fort Street Boys High School. He was a talented student and achieved entrance to Sydney University to study medicine, despite having to work to support his mother and sister and pay university fees. Cyril graduated MB BS with credit in 1943. He showed an early interest in tropical medicine, and in 1946 he was awarded a diploma in tropical medicine. He gained his membership of the College in 1953 and in 1978 was elected to the fellowship. In 1975 Cyril became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and in 1979 he was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA).

After a residency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Cyril joined the Australian Army for a short period until the end of the war. On leaving the Army he was appointed the first post-war missionary doctor to the Solomon Islands, working at Amyes Memorial Hospital. He not only looked after the mission hospital, but voluntarily and frequently visited, in the hospital boat, other missions and hospitals on the various islands, despite suffering intense sea-sickness with each visit. In 1950 Cyril departed the Solomon Islands to undertake postgraduate studies in England.

During his time in England, Cyril twice worked at the Hammersmith Hospital, first in 1950, and again from 1953 to 1954. In the years 1952 to 1952 he acted as consultant physician in tuberculosis in west Cornwall and in 1954 he spent a short time as assistant chest physician in north Wales.

Cyril spent the next 21 years specialising in chest diseases, particularly tuberculosis. He decided, in the first instance, to travel to the United States, where he accepted an appointment at the tuberculosis sanatorium in McCain, North Carolina. However, he was deeply concerned by the blatant racism he witnessed at that time, both in the sanatorium and in the local community. His aversion to racism was so strong that he decided he could not continue to work in the US and he left that country in December 1955 to take up an appointment in Queensland, Australia, as deputy director of tuberculosis services. During this time he was seconded to the World Health Organization for two years (from 1964 to 1965) to work at the Tuberculosis Research Centre in Madras, India.

In 1969 Cyril was appointed director of tuberculosis services in the state of South Australia, then in 1974 he moved to the federal capital, Canberra, as director of tuberculosis services for the Commonwealth of Australia. He served only one year in that position, before being appointed deputy director general of health within the then Commonwealth Department of Health. He held this position with distinction and was appreciated and respected not only for his wide expertise in public health but also for his understanding and consideration towards others. In 1978 he was honoured with an OBE for exceptional service to public health.

Cyril retired from the Australian Public Service at the end of 1982 and accepted a 12-month appointment in the western Pacific regional office of the World Health Organization, Manila, Philippines, as adviser in chronic diseases. Then in 1986, Cyril, still anxious to serve, accepted an appointment as medical director of the Australian Kidney Foundation, a position he held for the next ten years, from 1986 to 1997. At the same time he became increasingly involved with community service. He became a valued member of the board of the Richmond Fellowship, a charitable organisation providing mental health care. In 1984, Cyril was instrumental in driving a review of the welfare system in the Australian Capital Territory (the smallest self-governing territory in Australia) and helped to develop a submission, which resulted in the establishment of a 12-bed facility for adolescents with extreme behavioural and attitudinal problems.

He was a vigorous supporter of many overseas charities and was a keen supporter of the Medical Association for Prevention of War. As a non-smoker, Cyril was actively involved in Action on Smoking and Health, a charitable organisation concerned with developing programmes to discourage young people from taking up smoking and encouraging smokers to quit.

For more than 30 years, Cyril, and his wife Beryl née Podmore were instrumental in helping scores of people from overseas, especially international students who came to study in the Australian Capital Territory. These often shy and lonely young people were welcomed into their home and many of them came to refer to Cyril as ‘father’ or as their children’s grandfather. Many of these ‘grandchildren’ were named after him, both in Australia and overseas.

Cyril died in Canberra after a period of failing health associated with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Beryl, and his children, Bronwyn, David, Susan and Annette.

David de Souza

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List