Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Hugh Nickol

b.4 September 1924 d.5 January 2009
MB BS London(1946) DIH(1963) FRCP(1974) FFOM(1979) FRIPHH(1999)

Ken Nickol was a distinguished physician in occupational medicine who made a large contribution to education and training in the specialty. He was born in Walthamstow, London, on the Essex border, the son of Edgar Rudolph Nickol, a banker, and Isobel Constance née Hitchman. He was educated at St Aubyn’s and Felsted schools and then went on to study medicine at the London Hospital Medical School, qualifying in 1946 and gaining the Charrington prize in practical anatomy. He retained close ties with the London Hospital throughout his career and was honorary clinical assistant in respiratory medicine for some 20 years. He completed his National Service in the Royal Air Force. Extensive hospital experience followed in general and respiratory medicine at a number of hospitals, including Papworth and the Brompton.

In 1961 he joined the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company, at that time the largest employer in Chelmsford, which produced ball bearings to extremely tight tolerances. After five years he joined the Ford Motor Company, where he remained until he retired at 65. For more than 20 years he was senior medical officer in the foundry operations, where his great clinical skills and knowledge of foundry workers’ pneumoconiosis could best be used. His opinion, particularly on the interpretation of chest X-rays, was regularly sought and highly prized by his colleagues. He was awarded his FRCP in 1974.

Ken’s major contribution to the profession was his strong commitment to education and training and he was closely associated with the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, established by the College in 1978. He was co-opted on to the first faculty board as conference secretary and was subsequently appointed as the second faculty academic registrar, later becoming chief examiner. He contributed greatly to the faculty during its early growth and also served as a member of the working parties on postgraduate medical education, fitness for work and the Prison Medical Service.

Ken’s work in these fields carried on long after his formal retirement. He was chief examiner of the diploma in industrial health conjoint board, course tutor for the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene, and examiner for the Society of Apothecaries, where his guidance, encouragement, courtesy and friendship to doctors entering occupational medicine was greatly valued.

He joined the Society of Occupational Medicine in 1961, when he began working in his newly adopted specialty and immediately became an active member, serving on the council and later as chairman of the London group. He attended society meetings very regularly and continued to do so until his last illness. He was usually to be seen quietly taking notes to ensure that he kept fully up to date. Ceasing active work was not for Ken after retirement from Ford, and for a further 17 years he was consultant occupational physician to a wide group of private companies and several local authorities.

Gentle and urbane by nature, his mellow baritone voice was frequently heard in his church, which he attended very regularly. His love of music was passed on to his family and a son is a professional church organist. He also served on the parole board of his local prison. A fervent hobbies man, Ken and his wife Anne née Everest toured Europe in their caravan, played golf at his local club and sailed on the Blackwater estuary in Essex.

He died peacefully from a mesothelioma. His wife Anne, two sons and a grandson survive him.

Monty Brill

(Volume XII, page web)

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