Lives of the fellows

Edwin James Reid Leiper

b.18 February 1906 d.29 May 2009
MA Aberd(1925) MB ChB(1930) MRCP(1936) MD(1937) FRCP(1969)

Edwin James Reid Leiper, who died at the age of 103, was a consultant general physician at Herts and Essex General Hospital, Bishop’s Stortford. During his long career he saw the introduction of both antibiotics and organ transplantation. He was born in Aberdeen, the son of Andrew Donald Leiper, a superintendent of the post office, and Flora Macdonald née Reid, the daughter of a master tailor. After schooling at Robert Gordon’s College, he entered the University of Aberdeen at the age of just 16, studying mathematics and physics, graduating with an MA and first class honours. The Baroness de Bergh bursary, which was only awarded every four years, allowed him to study medicine and he qualified from his home university in 1930, again with first class honours.

Following a period in the Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen, he moved, via Sheffield, to London as a medical officer at the London County Council (LCC) hospitals. Based mainly in east London, in Hackney and St Leonard’s, during this period he gained his MRCP.

He remained in the LCC until 1941, when he transferred as part of the Emergency Medical Service to Haymeads Hospital in Bishop’s Stortford as senior consultant physician. He held this post until the birth of the NHS in 1948, apart from a short sojourn as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The hospital later became the Herts and Essex General Hospital, where he remained as the epitome of a general physician, receiving his FRCP in 1969.

After his official retirement in 1973, he was in great demand for locum posts in Hertfordshire and Essex, finally relinquishing practice at the age of 75.

He had many interests, from classical music to history. He particularly enjoyed hill-walking in the Cairngorms of his native Scotland. A kind and gentle man with a dry sense of humour, he is remembered fondly by very many friends.

He died at home, surrounded by his family, after three years of failing physical health and diminishing activity, though he remained mentally spry to the end. He leaves his wife, Dilys (née Thomas, a graduate of the Royal Free Medical School), daughters Margaret and Alison (a paediatric oncologist and a Fellow of the College), four grand-children and two great grand-children.

Alison Leiper

(Volume XII, page web)

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