Lives of the fellows

June Kathleen, Baroness Lloyd of Highbury Lloyd

b.1 January 1928 d.28 June 2006
DBE(1990) MB ChB Bristol(1951) MRCP(1954) DPH(1958) MD(1966) FRCP(1969) FRCP Edin(1989) Hon DSc Bristol(1991) Hon DSc Birm(1993) FRCGP

June Lloyd was a determined advocate for children’s health and was instrumental in the establishment of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). For almost 50 years successive attempts had been made by paediatricians to be more in control of their own affairs, but it was thanks to the persistence of Lloyd, then honorary secretary of the British Paediatric Association (BPA), and others, including Otto Wolff [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], president of the BPA, that the new college was granted its royal status in 1996, and assumed responsibility for the training and standards of paediatricians. Lloyd’s contribution is commemorated in the RCPCH’s coat of arms, which features her as one of the supporters, along with Thomas Phaire – author of the first book on paediatrics in the English language, written in 1545 – and a baby, adapted from the coat of arms of the Foundling Hospital in Coram’s Fields. Lloyd is depicted holding the staff of Aesculapius, but instead of a serpent it is intertwined with a double helix, representing DNA and the importance of science, of which Lloyd was a powerful proponent.

June Kathleen Lloyd was born in Simla, India. Her father, Arthur Cresswell Lloyd, was a major in the Royal Indian Army Service Corps. Her mother, Lucy Bevan Lloyd née Russell, was the daughter of an analytical chemist. The family returned to England when June was eight, shortly after the birth of her brother Philip. She was enrolled at the Royal School in Bath, where she excelled and became head girl. She studied medicine at Bristol, qualifying with honours and a gold medal.

She was a house officer and senior house officer in Bristol and Oxford and then a paediatric registrar in Bristol and Plymouth, becoming, in 1954, one of the youngest female members of the Royal College of Physicians. But it was difficult for women to make their way in paediatrics, which was then a competitive male environment, and she was advised to try public health. She then studied for the diploma in public health in Newcastle whilst working in South Shields. She was again told paediatrics was not for women, but, undaunted, she finally found a position in Birmingham, as a research assistant to Otto Wolff. Her friendship with him and his family was probably the most important of her life.

While teaching at the University of Birmingham from 1958 to 1965, Lloyd developed her research interests in obesity, inherited disorders of fat metabolism and other metabolic diseases. Her chief contribution is probably the recognition of the fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies that occur in children with abetalipoproteinaemia. She also took an interest in the early diagnosis of familial disorders of fat metabolism, where parents died of coronary heart disease at a very young age.

She followed Wolff to Great Ormond Street and the Institute of Child Health in 1965, becoming a senior lecturer and here she further developed her research interests. During this time she was very active in teaching, travelling widely to lecture, and began to serve on major national committees, including the Medical Research Council. She was an excellent chairman who had the rare ability of conducting meetings without a hint of tension, and she could sum up in a calm, fair, reflective and authoritative manner. She used words sparingly, but when she did speak little more needed to be said. Her quietness was associated with warmth and practicality.

In 1975 she was appointed to establish a new department of paediatrics at St George’s Hospital Medical School and, despite many inconveniences, including clinical facilities located far away from the Portakabin housing the academic offices, the department flourished. Many of the young doctors she appointed have gone on to become professors and leaders in paediatrics. Lloyd also developed close associations with biochemists and geneticists, which enabled her research to flourish.

In 1985 she returned to Great Ormond Street as Nuffield professor of child health. This second period at the Institute of Child Health was not as enjoyable as her first: she did not really fit well into the new, highly scientific atmosphere where laboratory science took precedence over clinical matters. She continued to assume national responsibilities, however, and was the first woman president of the BPA (from 1988 to 1991) and paediatric vice president of the Royal College of Physicians from (1992 to 1995). She retired in 1992, but continued to work for the promotion of paediatrics and children’s health.

In 1990 she was appointed DBE and, in 1997, was made a life peer. When informed that she was to enter the House of Lords and that it was the best club in town, she said: ‘But I am not a clubbable person.’ Sadly, just before she was due to be introduced into the House of Lords, while she was chairing a meeting on alcohol at the CIBA Foundation, she suffered a massive stroke which left her very disabled and unable to speak. With the considerable help of Lords Walton and Kilpatrick, she did eventually take her seat in 1998, but her disability prevented her from playing an active role in Parliament.

For many years she was civilian adviser to the Navy and took this responsibility very seriously, showing special concern for the dependent children of isolated service families. She would often tell colleagues that although the position of adviser was honorary, she was really an admiral. By this stage her brother, Philip, was a commander in the Royal Navy, and he took great pleasure in seeing both their names on the same Navy List.

Lloyd had a fiery temper to match her red hair. She had a steely eye, and attention to detail was impressed on all who worked for her, including the keeping of meticulous charts of every facet of any child who was a patient under her care.

She was much in demand for committee work, thanks to her thoroughness, conscientiousness and reliability. Always accessible to colleagues, she was affectionately known as ‘Aunty June’ by staff. If she was concentrating on papers at her desk, it could take many minutes before a visitor at the open door could gain her attention. She was probably most comfortable in the company of her younger male colleagues. She was good with children, although she did not find close personal contact easy. Despite her formidable public persona, she had a great sense of fun – which she kept for special occasions – and she was capable of great kindness.

She was engaged to be married soon after qualifying as a doctor, but this was called off at a late hour and she did not marry. She was survived by her brother Philip.

Sir Alan Craft

[Archive of Disease in Childhood 1993; 69; 333-4; The Lancet 2006 Vol 368 p.574; Brit.med.J., 2006 333 306; The Times 10 July 2006; The Guardian 11 July 2006; Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh www.rcpe.ac.uk/obituary/june-lloyd-baroness-lloyd-highbury-dbe-frcp-edin – accessed 9 February 2014]

(Volume XII, page web)

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