Lives of the fellows

Alwin Eric Dormer

b.20 September 1921 d.25 December 2005
MB BS Lond(1951) MRCP(1953) MD(1957) FRCP(1972)

Alwin Eric Dormer was a consultant physician at Whipps Cross Hospital, London. He was born in West Ham, London, the son of Charles Richard Dormer, an insurance agent and shopkeeper, and Ivy Rachel née Webster, the daughter of a printer. He was educated at West Ham Secondary School, passing his Higher School Certificate in 1939. His headmaster advised him to study civil engineering, but, with the advent of the Second World War, Dormer became a meteorological observer with the RAF. He was promoted to forecaster and, early in 1943, was posted as a meteorological officer to RAF Scampton. He spent his final year of service based in Sardinia.

Following his demobilisation in 1946, he won a scholarship to study medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, qualifying in 1951. As a medical student he represented London University at athletics. He remained at Bart’s after qualifying, having been awarded a medical fellowship. From 1953 to 1956, he was a registrar in the professorial medical unit, becoming a senior registrar in the same unit from 1956 to 1961. During this period, he spent one year (from 1957 to 1958) on a Fulbright scholarship as a fellow in medicine at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore. From 1962 to 1964, he was a medical tutor and casualty physician at Bart’s.

In 1964 he was appointed as a consultant physician to the Forest Group of Hospitals, principally Whipps Cross. His father had been on the board of guardians of Whipps Cross Hospital from 1922, representing the Alliance Party. As Eric Dormer relates in his notes for this obituary, this was “…a party founded in 1899 because ‘socialists in power were thought to lower the tone of public life’. That board of guardians was dismissed in 1926 by the Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain, for having run up a debt of half a million pounds.” Whipps Cross Hospital was to be Dormer’s base for the next 22 years.

Medical education was always of great interest to him, and he was a clinical tutor at Whipps Cross from 1971 to 1979, a period when the medical education centre was greatly enlarged. He was an examiner for MRCP exam from 1974 to 1988.

In 1963 he was a member of the Medical Research Council’s physiological expedition to the Colombian Andes. A love of the outdoors, walking and climbing took Dormer to many parts of the world, from Mongolia, the Himalayas and Antarctica, to Namibia and the Sahara.

He retired from the NHS in 1986, but continued locum work. From 1986 to 1993, he was a member of the Medical Appeal Tribunal and was a member, and later medical chairman, of the Pensions Appeal Tribunals. From 1993, he was an honorary medical adviser to the Royal British Legion.

Outside medicine, he served as one of four ‘verderers’ of Epping Forest, the official representatives of the users of the former Royal forests. Vederers have been appointed since the early 13th century and have included descendents of William Harvey [Munk’s Roll, Vol.I, p.124]. Dormer also wrote a history of Whipps Cross Hospital – Whipps Cross University Hospital: a view of its history (Leytonstone, Forest Medical Society, Whipps Cross University Hospital, 2002).

In 1954 he married Joanne Andrews, whose father, Walter Reginald Nahum Andrews, was a senior executive officer in the Colonial Service in Hong Kong. They had a son, Jonathan Dormer, a general practitioner who also trained at Bart’s, a daughter, Margot, a radiographer, and two grandchildren, Charlotte and Rory. Eric Dormer died peacefully at home on Christmas Day 2005.

RCP editor

(Volume XII, page web)

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