Lives of the fellows

Guy Pieremont Hallwright

b.22 August 1919 d.4 February 2013
MB ChB NZ(1941) MRCP(1949) MRACP(1948) FRACP(1958) FRCP(1968)

Guy Pieremont Hallwright, known as ‘Ponty’, was a cardiologist in Wellington, New Zealand. He was born in Wairoa, the son of Matthew Leslie Guy Hallwright and Ethel May Hallwright née Pieremont. Ponty came from a family with a strong medical heritage. His father was a surgeon who had practised in British Honduras before going to New Zealand, initially to Westport and then to Wairoa. His paternal grandfather, Matthew, practised medicine in Birmingham, England, as did his uncle, Francis. Ponty’s brother William became surgeon in Auckland, and his daughter Susan is an Otago medical graduate.

He was educated at Huntley School (Marton) and at Wanganui Collegiate School. At 16 he went to Dunedin to study medicine on an exhibition scholarship. He graduated in 1941 with a distinction in medicine and was awarded the New Zealand medical graduates’ medal in clinical medicine and the Marjorie McCallum medal in medicine. He was a house physician at Wellington Hospital, where many members of the medical staff were on active service. In 1943 Ponty was appointed assistant pathologist and would remain in this role for two years.

He was able to join the 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1945, once his brother Bill had returned from overseas service, replacing him in the pathology department. Ponty served in Egypt, Italy and in Japan as a pathologist and medical officer, in 2, 3, 5 and 6 New Zealand General Hospitals.

He returned to Wellington Hospital as a medical registrar. He then headed to England for postgraduate studies. In 1949 he was a resident medical officer (RMO) to John McMichael [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.341] at Hammersmith Hospital, and the following year was RMO at the National Heart Hospital. At the Heart Hospital he developed a reputation as the hardest working and best RMO that the consultant staff had seen, and for many years afterwards his performance was held up as the benchmark for subsequent holders of that position. In 1951 he became a chief assistant to the professorial medical unit at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Returning to Wellington Hospital in 1952, he took up a full-time assistant physician role and was a medical tutor. The following year he became part-time and established a private consulting practice. He was involved in some of the earliest cardiac catheterisations done at Wellington Hospital, and continued to participate in this area until 1964. In 1955 he was appointed as a visiting physician to the newly created hypertension clinic. This would be the main focus of his hospital practice until he retired. Following Sir Charles Burns’ [Munk’s Roll, VolIX, p.67] retirement, Ponty was appointed as a visiting physician to the cardiology department, and was made head of that service in 1960. He handed over that role to Peter Leslie in 1979 and fully retired in 1985.

He is remembered as a hard-working clinician with high standards, especially in regard to the recording of blood pressure. He published a paper on that subject, ‘Recording the blood pressure – who, when and how?’ in the New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMedJ 1988 Apr 27:101[844]:198-9) in 1988. He was a champion for the accurate documentation of patient history and examination findings.

Apart from his clinical duties, he participated in a remarkable range of professional activities. He was chairman of the Wellington Hospital medical staff and of the combined medical staffs of the Wellington Hospital Board. He was an external examiner for the University of Otago, and was the last sub-dean of the Wellington branch faculty of medicine, before the creation of the Wellington Clinical School.

He was a member of the founding committee that met to establish the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, and was a councillor and a member of the scientific committee. He was chairman of the Wellington regional committee for some years. He was chairman of the New Zealand committee of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand from 1967 to 1972.

At the Royal Australasian College of Physicians he was a member of the New Zealand committee, a member of the New Zealand board of censors, and chairman of the New Zealand specialist advisory committee in cardiology.

In 1953 he rejoined the territorial Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps (RNZAMC). He was colonel commandant from 1975 to 1980.

His extracurricular interests included golf, wine and bridge.

In 1946, Ponty married Hilda (‘Min’) Barrowclough, a secondary school teacher, and they had three sons (Guy, Pete and Chris) and a daughter (Susan). That marriage was dissolved and, in 1966, he married Mary Helen Wood, a nurse. He died in Wellington aged 93 and was survived by Mary and his four children. He is remembered by many as a wise mentor, a valued colleague and a good friend.

Ron Easthope

(Volume XII, page web)

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