Lives of the fellows

Gwilym Eryl Owen Williams

b.6 February 1914 d.2006
MB ChB Liverp(1937) MD(1939) MRCP(1942) FRCP(1963)

Gwilym Eryl Owen Williams was a consultant physician in Birmingham. Known as ‘Owen-Williams’ to his colleagues; he was ‘Eryl’ to his family. He was born in Wallasey, the son of Hugh Francis Williams, a GP who had graduated from Glasgow as a mature student, and Catherine Mary William née Jones, who became a city councilor in Wallasey. The family’s background was firmly Welsh – Owen-Williams’ paternal grandfather was a chemist in the mid-Wales town of Llanfyllin, his maternal grandfather (Owen Pryce Jones) was a self-educated mining engineer in the slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog and a descendant of William Morgan, the translator of the 1588 version of the Welsh Bible. Welsh was spoken at home, and Owen-Williams and his sister both played the harp and sang.

He was educated at Wallasey Grammar School, and then went on to study medicine at the University of Liverpool. He qualified in 1937 with distinctions in physiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and surgery, and with the O T Williams prize.

He held house posts at Liverpool Royal Infirmary. Between 1938 and 1940 he was a junior lecturer in pathology at the University of Liverpool, and gained his MD in 1939.

Between 1940 and 1942 he worked in the Emergency Medical Services, for the regional blood transfusion service. He then served in the RAF as a clinical pathologist with the rank of squadron leader, based at Northallerton.

Following his demobilisation, he returned to Liverpool, as a medical registrar at the Royal Infirmary. From 1947 he was a consultant general physician for the United Birmingham Hospitals and a clinical lecturer in medicine at the University of Birmingham. He was based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, had patients at Stourbridge (Corbett Hospital), and ran outpatient clinics at the General Hospital. He also had a small private practice at his home in Harborne Road, Edgbaston.

In the early 1960s, he suffered a large myocardial infarction and two cardiac arrests at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, after which he was on warfarin and aspirin. He subsequently regularly walked from his home, up Richmond Hill, to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a cracking pace, and also from there to the General Hospital.

He was an active member of the local area BMA, secretary of the Birmingham regional consultants and specialists committee from 1947 to 1953, and chairman from 1956 to 1958, and was a member of the central consultants and specialists committee from 1959. He was honorary secretary of the Birmingham regional medical recruitment committee from 1952.

In 1940 he married Elsie Owen Hughes, a fellow medical student and the daughter of a master builder. She was initially a GP in Selly Oak, before entering the public health service, eventually becoming chief medical officer for Wolverhampton. She and Eryl regularly attended Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham. They had one son, David, and a daughter, Anne.

RCP editor
Rhodri Ceredig

(Volume XII, page web)

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