Lives of the fellows

William Harding Helm

b.30 August 1918 d.19 May 2006
MRCS LRCP(1942) MRCP(1943) FRCP(1971)

William Harding Helm, known as ‘Bill’, was a consultant physician in general medicine and chest diseases in the York and Harrogate area. He was born in London, the son of Cyril Helm, a doctor, and Margaret Helm née Cook, the daughter of a P&O sea captain. He was educated at Rosslyn House, Felixstowe, and then Bradfield College, Berkshire, and studied medicine at Middlesex Hospital, qualifying with the conjoint examination in 1942.

He held junior posts at Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, and Middlesex Hospital, and then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1943, at the height of the Second World War. He served on the frontline in Normandy, in charge of an advanced dressing station, treating the wounded after D Day. Perhaps uniquely, he worked alongside his father, who had served in the First World War and had rejoined the Army in 1939. Bill Helm went on to serve in Belgium and Holland. He briefly returned to London to see the celebrations marking the end of the war in Europe, and was then posted to India for two years as a medical specialist.

Following his demobilisation, he became a medical registrar at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, part of the Middlesex Hospital sector. From 1949 to 1950, he was a house physician and resident medical officer at the London Chest Hospital, Victoria Park. He was then a senior registrar at Brompton Hospital and the London Chest Hospital.

In 1955 he was appointed as a consultant chest physician and general physician in Manchester and Burnley. Five years later, he was appointed to the Leeds Regional Hospital Board, as a general physician and chest physician, covering York, Harrogate and Scarborough. As a senior consultant he helped redevelop chest services across most of north Yorkshire. He was president of Yorkshire Thoracic Society and York Medical Society.

He retired in 1981 and immediately began studying with the Open University. He also wrote a paper on tuberculosis within the Brontë family (‘Tuberculosis and the Brontë family’ Brontë Studies 27[2] July 2002, 157-67) and became involved in conservation, chairing the Ryedale branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England.

He was a keen fisherman, rough shooter, race goer and, until his mid-50s, a first class squash player. He was for many years a season ticket holder at York City football club, eventually becoming vice chairman.

In 1949 he married Elizabeth Diana Beazley, the daughter of a London woollen merchant. They had two sons (Nicholas and Toby) and two daughters (Louisa and Sarah).

RCP editor

[The Daily Telegraph 11 August 2006; Brit.med.J., 2006 333 553; The Old Bradfieldian Autumn 2006, p.19]

(Volume XII, page web)

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