Lives of the fellows

Richard Francis Jarrett

b.22 July 1910 d.16 April 2011
BA Cantab(1932) MB BChir(1935) MRCS LRCP(1935) MRCP(1939) FRCP(1965)

Richard Francis (‘Dick’) Jarrett was a consultant cardiac physician in Gloucester. Born in London, he was the son of Evan Trenchard Jarrett, director of Jarrett Brothers, a firm of cigar importers, and his wife, Edith Maud née Bancroft, whose father was Robert M Bancroft, past president of the Civil and Mechanical Engineer’s Society. Educated at Durlstone Court Preparatory School and Shrewsbury School, he studied medicine at Caius College, Cambridge and St George’s Hospital.

After qualifying in 1935, he did house jobs at St George’s, eventually specialising in pathology and paediatrics, and two years later accepted an invitation to take up a paediatrics post in Philadelphia, USA. While there he spent an enjoyable two years exploring the country and learnt to surf at Waikiki using what would now be considered a dangerously heavy board – the danger of sharks was nothing, he recalled, compared to being hit by a board after falling off. Another lasting memory was of a chance meeting with Cary Grant in Palm Springs and sitting over dinner with him far into the night reminiscing about the UK. On his return he moved to the British Postgraduate Medical School (BPMS) in Hammersmith as a clinical tutor.

He enlisted with the RAMC in 1939 as a specialist physician with the Middle East Forces. At Ismailia on the Suez Canal he joined 19th Base Hospital and worked under canvas. From 1942 to 1943 he was medical advisor to the British Military Attaché in Turkey and was put in charge of a malaria eradication programme in order to enable the RAF to construct new airstrips to target the Balkans. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1944, he ran a detachment supporting commando raids in the Aegean and took part in hazardous trips in fast inshore boats taking medical supplies to islands living under German occupation.

Demobilised in 1945, he returned to the BPMS as a senior registrar and was then appointed a consultant physician in charge of the cardiac clinic at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in 1946. The following year he became consulting physician to the North Gloucestershire clinical area. Aware of the major advances that had been made in cardiology, he started referring children with congenital heart disease to the new surgical units in urban centres. From 1953 he was a member of Bristol University’s medical postgraduate advisory council and, 10 years later was put in charge of organising the area’s postgraduate medical studies. He was also a member of the British Cardiac Society, the Advisory Panel on Drug Addiction and the International Society for Internal Medicine. Although he retired from the NHS in 1975, he continued his private practice until 1990.

At Cambridge he had been a keen squash player and was in the Caius College first VI; he was also a member of the Jester’s Club. Further sports he enjoyed were golf, shooting, skiing and water skiing. In his sixties he learnt to windsurf, having experienced it while on holiday in Spain. The oldest member by many years of the Senior and Veterans Windsurfing Association, he was filmed windsurfing for the television news on his 90th birthday. With his younger brother, Edward Bancroft Jarrett [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], he was the joint owner of an X One Design yacht which they raced and often took part in Cowes week. Gardening and cinematography were other interests, and in later life he was a keen chess player.

In 1947 he married Joyce Mary (‘Joy’) née Rowell whose father, Eric John, was an estate agent. She had been an actress before the war and during hostilities she served as a ‘Wren’ at Bletchley Park. They had a son and daughter. Joy died of lung cancer in 2005 and he was survived by their daughter, Virginia, her husband Richard, and their daughters, Holly Venetia and Rosanna.

RCP editor

[The Painswick Beacon – accessed 22 September 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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