Lives of the fellows

John Edward Cawdery

b.7 December 1935 d.20 April 2012
BM BCh Oxon(1960) DObst RCOG(1964) MRCP(1966) FRCP(1980)

John Edward Cawdery was a consultant paediatrician at Royal Gwent Hospital. Born in London, he was the son of Edward Alexander Cawdery, an accountant. Educated at King’s College School in Wimbledon, he studied medicine at Oriel College, Oxford and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Qualifying in 1960, he did house jobs at Bart’s and then at the Hereford County Hospital where in 1962 he became senior house officer in paediatrics. The following year he moved to Northampton General Hospital as a registrar and remained there until 1967 when he went to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street for a year as a house physician. In 1968 he was appointed paediatric registrar to the United Cardiff Hospitals and stayed for three years, becoming a senior registrar.

In 1970 he became consultant paediatrician to the Newport and South Gwent District. A colleague described the relentlessness of the rota he worked in those days, sharing a ‘one in three’ with another paediatrician and one paediatric registrar. He would have to drive some distance between consultations as the provision of acute children’s services was scattered throughout the county and children were often nursed on adult wards by nurses accustomed to dealing with adult medicine. In his role as clinical director, Cawdery was able to rationalise the service and he set up a dedicated children’s ward staffed by experienced paediatric nurses at the Royal Gwent. Always sensitive to the needs of his patients, he made sure that local clinics were available for initial assessments to reduce the travel costs for families.

Among the particular aspects of his specialty that he focussed on was the training of the next generation and, as Royal College advisor on manpower and training, he made a huge contribution throughout Wales. He also developed a comprehensive service for diabetic children and their families and pioneered child protection in Gwent, a service he had initiated in the 1980s. Recognised by colleagues as a hard working man committed to public service, he continued to do locums long after his official retirement date. A founder member of the Welsh Paediatric Society, he was its president from 1990 to 1992.

He spent much of his free time organising activity weekends for his diabetic patients. Gardening was a favourite pastime.

In 1971 he married Catherine Eirlys née Davies whose father, David, was a farrier and smith. They had two sons and a daughter. When he died at home after some six months of ill health, Catherine survived him together with their children, Rhidian Andrew, Meirion Robert, and Rhonwen Anna.

RCP editor

[Welsh Paed J 2012 37 44 - accessed 31 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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