Lives of the fellows

Brian Fenton Brearley

b.27 April 1917 d.30 June 2009
BA Cantab(1939) MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BChir(1942) MRCP(1948) MD(1951) FRCP(1970)

Brian Brearley was a consultant physician in Preston and Chorley. He was born in Rangoon, Burma, the son of Alfred Brearley, a bank manager, and Beatrice Mary née Fenton, the daughter of an accountant. He was sent to the UK to be educated, initially at Rhos-on-Sea and later at Sedbergh School. Family life was far from normal due to his father’s work in the Far East, and during the school holidays he, together with his sister and younger brother, were despatched to relatives in Blackburn. In addition, his mother died in 1935 and six years later his brother Geoffrey was killed whilst on an RAF training flight. Brian won scholarships to both Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London.

Following house officer posts at St Mary’s Hospital, he served as a surgeon lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1943 to 1946.

After the war, he spent two years in registrar posts at St Mary’s before going to the Royal Infirmary, Sheffield, as a senior registrar. In 1950 he was appointed as a consultant physician at Preston and Chorley. On his arrival at Preston he was told that he was in charge of the diabetics, so he set up and ran diabetic clinics in both Preston and Chorley, with a particular interest in diabetic pregnancies, until his retirement in 1980. He set up and chaired the Preston branch of the British Diabetic Association, which arranged regular social and fundraising events, medical talks and an annual garden party.

He was a quiet and shy man, but well respected by his colleagues. At various times he was chairman of the local medical executive and medical advisory committees.

He was always very active and loved his sport. At Cambridge he was awarded his blue after winning the 1939 one mile race against Oxford (the last Cambridge winner of this event until Herb Elliott in 1961). He captained the university cross country team and, in 1942, he was selected for the English universities team. He played tennis for many years and took up bowling in retirement. He always enjoyed walking, both locally with a dog and on holiday.

He married Olive née Mansfield, a nursing sister at St Mary’s, in 1943. She supported him in all his activities, and organised family life and activities. She was sorely missed after her death in 2003. He was survived by his children Anne, John, Jenny and Margaret, and six grandchildren.

John Brearley

[Brit.med.J. 2009 339 3586]

(Volume XII, page web)

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