Lives of the fellows

Reginald Bolton

b.20 November 1909 d.21 September 2006
MBE(1944) MRCS LRCP(1933) MB BS London(1936) MRCP(1938) FRCP(1963)

Reginald Bolton (or ‘Reggie’, as he was affectionately known) was an experienced consultant physician at Epsom District Hospital who was an inspiration to many of his junior doctors. He was born in Prescott, Lancashire, but spent his school days in Yorkshire (Wakefield Grammar School). He came from a family of doctors: his father, Joseph Shaw Bolton [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.500], and uncle, Charles Bolton [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.499], were both Fellows of the College. His mother was Ellen née Rogers, the daughter of an officer in the RAF. Reggie proceeded to University College Hospital, where he trained as a medical student, qualifying in 1933, and held junior posts. From 1937 to 1939 he was a senior medical officer at the London Fever Hospital, a role which ended with the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1940 he joined the RAMC as a medical officer in several war zones, including experience as a medical specialist on a hospital ship. In 1944 he was wounded, resulting in a short period of hospitalisation, but returned to work as a medical specialist at Cambridge Hospital. In this year he was awarded the MBE.

In 1945 he became a physician at Epsom District Hospital, upgraded to consultant physician at the same hospital at the start of the NHS in 1948, a position he held for three decades until his retirement. He also held an honorary post as a consultant physician at Epsom College, an independent school.

His specialty interests were diabetes and infectious diseases, but his knowledge of general medicine was encyclopaedic and impressive. His junior doctors were inspired by his wisdom, while his patients were inspired to get better more quickly. He was a forthright but kindly Northerner whose ward rounds and outpatients were a source of didactic medical teaching. As a junior doctor, I would sometimes telephone him in the middle of the night for urgent advice, but instead he said he would be there in ten minutes. Sure enough, a few minutes later I would see his Ford Zephyr hurtling through the grounds of the hospital. He was dressed immaculately, complete with a Homburg hat. Often he had a hunch what was wrong with the patient, and then would wait in sister’s office for two hours whilst confirmatory tests were performed. He would then say, 'I told you so, didn’t I?'. When he retired about 50 of his junior staff over the years arranged a party to salute an inspirational doctor.

In his younger days he was a keen sportsman, obtaining the great distinction of gaining county and English intermediate caps at rugby. Rugby was an abiding interest for the rest of his life. In 1941 he married Dorothy Gordon née Mitchell. They had two sons, Jeremy and Jonathan.

Charles Corney

(Volume XII, page web)

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