Lives of the fellows

John Stuart Oldham

b.10 October 1920 d.9 June 2007
BM BCh Oxon(1944) MRCP(1949) DM(1957) FRCP(1973)

Stuart Oldham was a consultant paediatrician at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham, and also held sessions at Corbett Hospital, Stourbridge. He was born in Preston, the son of Eric Oldham, a hat manufacturer, and Vera Gwendoline Shakespeare née Greener, the daughter of William Oliver Greener, an explorer, journalist and novelist. Stuart was educated at Denstone College, and then won a scholarship to Oxford. He spent his undergraduate clinical years in Manchester.

During his National service he was a captain in the RAMC in Egypt and Kenya. Subsequently he held registrar and senior registrar posts at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. From 1956 he was a temporary consultant paediatrician at Warwick Hospital, and a year later he was appointed as a permanent consultant paediatrician at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham.

Dudley Road Hospital had a busy maternity unit and Stuart was concerned about those children born with deformities which would generally be submitted for surgery. With the leading surgeon Peter Bevan, who was a golfing companion, he devised exercises so that conditions such as talipes avoided the surgical attentions of his colleagues. Publications were not surprisingly clinically based: he described cases of recurrent polyneuritis, streptomycin in tuberculous meningitis, and the ECG recognition of ventricular hypertrophy during the first year of life in those with congenital heart disease.

He became secretary of the Midland Regional Paediatric Society and, within the hospital, chairman of the division of paediatrics and child health. Although he took little part in the extra-curricular activities at the hospital, his pleasant down to earth approach and common sense resulted in him becoming chairman of the medical executive committee. His three-year period in this post was unusual in that it was quietly and efficiently managed with no episodes of collective consultant outrage about ‘the management’.

He was a very private man and a dedicated clinician, described as “a kind, decent man of great integrity”. He had many interests, but was a passionate gardener and retired at 65 to supervise the vineyard he had planted. Despite the north wind, he produced his own wine. He died peacefully in his sleep at his beloved cottage. He is survived by his brother, wife, Jean Hilary née Westbrook, whom he had married in 1944, and three daughters.

Keith Harding

(Volume XII, page web)

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