Lives of the fellows

John Ronald Forbes

b.27 March 1912 d.1 February 2003
MB BS Lond(1935) MRCS LRCP(1935) MRCP(1937) MD(1938) FRCP(1953)

John Ronald Forbes was a consultant physician in Wrexham. He was born in Ryton-on-Tyne, County Durham. From an early age he dreamt of becoming a cartoonist, but his father insisted that he train to be a doctor. He went to Guy’s Hospital Medical School in London in 1929 on a confined science entrance scholarship and graduated in 1935 with a Golding-Bird medal in midwifery. He held house posts at Guy’s and Brompton Hospital, gaining his MRCP in 1937. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was a registrar at Guy’s.

During the war, Forbes initially worked in hospitals set up outside London to receive civilian casualties. He then joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1940, serving in a number of Royal Navy Hospitals, as well as with the Home Fleet in Scotland and the Royal Marines in Iceland. In 1945, he joined HM Hospital Ship Maine in Malta. He was demobilised in 1946 as a medical specialist with the rank of surgeon lieutenant commander.

After the war, he took the post of assistant physician at Bromley Hospital and returned to Guy’s as a clinical tutor. In 1947 Forbes moved to north Wales, where he took up the post of consultant physician at Wrexham War Memorial Hospital. He retired in 1977 as chief consultant physician. During his 30 years in Wrexham he helped build up and develop the town’s hospitals and establish Wrexham Maelor as a leading regional hospital. He was the prime mover in the establishment of the Wrexham postgraduate teaching centre and was the first postgraduate organiser and clinical tutor.

He was chairman of the Society of Physicians in Wales, president of the north Wales branch of the British Medical Association, president of the Wrexham Clinical Society and a member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines. With William Mann [Munk’s Roll, vol.XI, p.375], he wrote Clinical examination of patients, with notes on laboratory diagnosis (London, Edward Arnold & Co, 1950).

After he retired he continued to take an active part in his community, serving on the boards of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and of the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales, and volunteering at the National Trust’s Erddig Hall. He also spent time painting and creating a much-admired garden at his home.

He was survived by his wife, Pamela née Burbery, whom he had met at a dance at Brompton Hospital, their four sons (Alasdair, Giles, Duncan and Andrew) and five grandchildren.

RCP editor

[gkt gazette March 2003, pp.850-852; Brit.med.J. 2003 326 768; The Times 27 March 2003]

(Volume XII, page web)

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