Lives of the fellows

William David Walls

b.9 March 1938 d.7 December 2009
MB ChB Leeds(1960) MRCP(1965) MD(1969) FRCP(1979)

David Walls, as he preferred to be known, was a consultant physician at Pinderfields General Hospital, Wakefield. He was a highly respected clinician with more than his share of common sense, along with a strong sense of humour.

David was born in Bradford, the first son of William Bradshaw Walls, a school teacher, later a headmaster. David entered Leeds University Medical School in 1955. He was an industrious student, but well-liked by his fellow students for his sense of humour and his penchant for practical jokes. He graduated in 1960 and held pre-registration house officer posts in Chester and Chapel Allerton in Leeds. Following a senior house officer general medicine rotation at Chapel Allerton, he was appointed as a research assistant in the department of medicine at the University of Leeds (from 1966 to 1968), and was then a senior registrar to Monty Losowsky. He was awarded an MD with distinction (Leeds) in 1969, being only the second student to have achieved a distinction.

David moved to Pinderfields General Hospital, Wakefield, in 1972 as a consultant physician with a special interest in gastroenterology, a new post. He created a department of gastroenterology and, from the outset, worked closely with the general surgeon Graham Bird, running joint clinics at Clayton Hospital, Wakefield. Prior to the arrival of H2 blockers, David had great faith in surgery. Graham believed in surgery as a last resort. Between them, over many years, they strived to achieve the best outcome for their patients. David saw the development of an excellent endoscopy suite with dedicated gastroenterology beds. He was responsible for the local abolition of the faecal fat test – this being particularly appreciated by the biochemistry department.

He was a keen teacher of undergraduates and postgraduates and was often sought out for membership tutorials. Colleagues knew that any request for advice would result in a rapid, sound and common sense response. His activity within the hospital above and beyond his clinical duties was recognised and rewarded within the merit system.

David’s great sense of humour was always at the forefront. There was a patient who could not travel to work on the bus without having diarrhoea, but could travel on his motor-bike with his helmet on. David suggested he might travel on the bus with his helmet on. Result – a satisfied client!

Soon after David’s arrival at Pinderfields there was a clinical day to allow presentation of innovations brought to the hospital. There were contributions with slides and pomposity, whereas David gave a presentation of clarinet playing.

Another achievement was his activity over many years in the developing field of medical hypnosis, which he used to great effect in the management of some chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

David was an able golfer and was proud to have won the Moynihan cup in 1976, this being open to all medical practitioners in Yorkshire. He had other hobbies, awaiting the time when he retired. He was an active member of the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and performed many concerts with them over several years, often abroad. He developed his skill as a painter in watercolours and acrylics, and was a seasoned and sharp debater.

He had a love of wide open spaces and went with friends to Iceland, Norway, the Lake District and Spain and often to the North York Moors. This inspired much of his landscape painting. Shortly before his final illness, he was able to fulfil a long held wish to visit Iona and Fingal’s cave in Scotland. He found it physically exhausting, but enjoyed every minute. His paintings remain a very special reminder of a great friend.

David was married twice, first to Dorothy in 1965, by whom he had two children. After this marriage was dissolved, he married Denise in 1982. They had a daughter.

David greatly enjoyed the challenge of medicine and took much comfort from his children and many friends. His latter years were dogged by ill health, which he bore with singular fortitude and realism and great stoicism. He eventually succumbed to lymphoma initially diagnosed ten years earlier, dying in the Wakefield Hospice with family and friends visiting to the end.

David was an astute physician to whom all could turn for a balanced and considered diagnosis. He was a great friend and colleague.

Simon Williams

(Volume XII, page web)

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