Lives of the fellows

Christopher Henry Nourse

b.7 June 1930 d.1 December 2010
MB Cantab(1958) DObst(1960) DCH(1961) MRCP Edin(1965) FRCP Edin(1977) FRCP(1994) FRCPCH(1997)

Christopher Henry Nourse was a consultant paediatrician in Ipswich. He was born in Cambridge, where his father, Henry Edward Nourse, was a popular local GP. His mother, Ethel Millicent née Sargent (‘Millicent’), was also medically qualified and during the Second World War she resumed part-time practice. Educated at St Ronans in Hawkhurst and then at Winchester College, he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade to do his National Service while still at school.

In 1950 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment and sent to Malaya to serve in the emergency. During his time there he led a jungle patrol which resulted in the deaths of two terrorists and had to be stretchered out suffering from septicaemia in the leg caused by a leech bite. After six weeks convalescence in Penang he sailed back to England in May 1951. He remained a territorial officer until 1957 and then served with the RAMC reserve until 1985.

On his return to the UK he studied medicine at King’s College, Cambridge and the Middlesex Hospital – he had never entertained any doubts about his future career. In his final year he was president of the university medical society. He did house jobs at the Middlesex and at Mount Vernon Hospital. In 1959 he joined his father’s practice in Cambridge and also worked at the Maternity Hospital. He realised quite quickly that general practice was not for him and that he was more interested in the care and treatment of children. At the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, he began paediatric training and continued by spending a year in the US as a research fellow at Harvard University and the Boston Children’s Medical Centre from 1965 to 1966.

In 1967 he joined the staff of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington and was then appointed to his first paediatric consultancy, in Colchester. He later worked in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds before being appointed consultant community paediatrician at the Allington NHS Trust in Ipswich. He specialised in premature babies, the prevention of cot deaths, the treatment of leukaemia in children, and, in his later work, community paediatrics. He was assistant secretary of the British Paediatric Association from 1976 to 1981.

He was an enthusiastic member of the Merchant Taylor’s company and greatly enjoyed attending their convivial dinners at their hall in Threadneedle Street. From 1973 he was a member of their court and was Master from 1982 to 1983. Later he also became chair of governors at the Merchant Taylor’s School in Northwood for five years from 1997. Other passions were opera and the work of the East Anglian water colourists.

In 1963 he married Victoria Helen Mary née Thomas and they had three sons and a daughter. They divorced and, in 1978, he married Barbara Jennifer Cox née Downing-Smith (‘Jennie’) and he acquired a stepson whom he treated as one of his own children. When he died he was survived by Jennie, Victoria, their children and eight grandchildren, and his brother, Sir Martin Charles Nourse, a former Lord Justice of Appeal.

RCP editor

[Annual report of King’s College, Cambridge - accessed 2 July 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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