Lives of the fellows

David Verel

b.20 April 1919 d.23 December 2009
MB BChir Cantab(1943) MD(1948) MRCP(1945) FRCP(1967)

David Verel was a consultant cardiologist in Sheffield and a lecturer in cardiology at Sheffield University. He was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and the family moved to Aberdeen soon afterwards. Raymond Verel OBE, FRCSEd, his father, was a respected ear, nose and throat surgeon for the Aberdeen hospitals who unfortunately died from streptococcal septicaemia on 29 September, 1920 when David was just under 18 months old. His mother, Muriel Maude née Gregory, was a nurse during the First World War and had been stationed in Egypt. Her father, James Gregory, was a schoolmaster.

Educated initially at Aberdeen Grammar School, he then attended Trinity College, Glenalmond and studied medicine at Cambridge University, doing his training at the various London hospitals. Qualifying in 1943, he did house jobs at the London Hospital before becoming seriously ill with staphylococcal septicaemia and a cerebral abscess. One of the first 12 people in the UK to be treated with penicillin, he survived but was left with residual left hemiplegia and was declared unfit for military service.

He returned to Aberdeen to convalesce at his guardian’s home and then took up a post as a lecturer and an assistant to Professor Sir Robert S Aitken [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X, p.3]. In 1948 he passed his Cambridge MD with a thesis on postural hypotension, winning the Copeman medal and the Raymond Horton-Smith prize, and moved to London as Beit research fellow in the clinical research unit at Guy’s. After three years, in 1951, he became a lecturer in medicine at the London Hospital. Following this he was appointed senior lecturer in medicine and honorary consultant physician to Sheffield University and united hospitals in 1957, being promoted to regional cardiologist two years later.

During his 25 years in Sheffield he continued to research and published numerous important papers. His book Cardiac catheterization and angiocardiography (Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone, 1973) is now in its third edition and, in the same year, he published Essential cardiology (Lancaster, Medical and Technical Publishing Company, 1973) .

At Cambridge he had fenced for the A team in 1938. He enjoyed gardening, carpentry, photography, music, fine wines and was a connoisseur of single malt whiskies. After retiring from the NHS in 1984 he spent three years living part of the time in Malta, travelling there in a small motor home. While there he swam in the sea most mornings, played bridge and wrote a cookery book as well as his autobiography.

In 1948 he married Agnes Cobden Miller née Williamson, a medical graduate whom he met during his convalescence in Aberdeen. Her father, Edwin Lawrence Williamson, was an architect. They had a son and two daughters. She became medical officer to the carbon products division of Union Carbide in Sheffield. When Verel died in a nursing home in Sheffield, his health had been declining for some years. He was survived by his children including his eldest daughter, Joan Scruton, who is a family doctor in British Columbia, Canada.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2010 340 2467]

(Volume XII, page web)

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