Lives of the fellows

David Maurice Lewis

b.16 October 1938 d.? July 2012
BChir Cantab(1963) MRCS LRCP(1963) BA MB(1964) MRCP(1969) FRCP(1994) FRCPCH

David Maurice Lewis was a consultant paediatrician in Aberystwyth. Born in Dinas Cross, Pembrokeshire, he was the son of Edgar Gwy Lewis and his wife, Nellie Eluned. His father was a university lecturer in Burma and the family went out to join him at the outbreak of the Second World War, travelling by Sunderland flying boat with overnight stops in Marseille, Naples, Alexandria, Basra and Karachi. His earliest memories were of life in Rangoon, where the family lived until the Japanese invasion forced them to flee to Kotagiri in India. On their return to the UK, he attended Llandrindod Wells Grammar School and studied medicine at Cambridge University and St Thomas’ Hospital.

Qualifying in 1964, he did house jobs at the Peace Memorial Hospital in Watford and then returned to St Thomas’ to work in the casualty department. From 1965 to 1966 he worked at the London Chest Hospital and then spent a year as Wellcome research fellow at the Institute for Clinical Research at the Middlesex Hospital. In 1968 he was a senior house officer in paediatrics at St Thomas’ and the following year became registrar, then senior registrar at the Hammersmith Hospital. In 1970 he was appointed a lecturer in paediatrics at Manchester University and, three years later, senior registrar in paediatrics at the South Manchester group of hospitals.

He became the first consultant paediatrician to be appointed at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth in 1976. Dedicated to his young patients, he initiated a system of rural health support services, the working of which he continued to monitor even after retirement. One of the very few doctors to take the condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) seriously in the 1980s and 1990s, he travelled far and wide to help diagnose sick children. He even accepted adult patients for a time in his clinic, which caused conflict with the hospital authorities. Occasionally the subject of ridicule by other doctors, he practiced homeopathy, integrating it into his holistic approach when he thought it would be effective.

A man of many enthusiasms, he played in the rugby team at school and was proficient at fencing – he was in the Cambridge University fencing team. Other sports were windsurfing, wild swimming, skiing and sailing (he once crossed the Atlantic). Other passions were ceramics, foraging for mushrooms, gardening and playing the piano and cello – as he put it ‘after a fashion’. When he got his post at Aberystwyth he bought a smallholding called Allfadog which was in a very run down condition and threw huge energy into reviving it and raising pigs, sheep, ducks, geese and chickens. In 2009 the property was almost totally destroyed by fire when he and his wife were away skiing and the local farmers risked their lives to rescue the contents. An enthusiast for renewable energy, he built his own wind turbine.

In 1965 he married Clarissa Myfanwy née Piper. She was the second child of the distinguished war artist, John Piper, and his wife, Myfanwy, the art critic and opera librettist. Clarissa survived him when he died from pancreatic cancer, together with their children; son Vaughan, daughter Emily and five grandchildren. His son Leo was born and died in 1967.

RCP editor

[The Guardian www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/aug/31/david-lewis-obituary/; Welsh Association of ME Support http://wames.org.uk/cms-english/2012/09/pioneer-for-me-david-lewis-1939-2012/ both accessed 9 November 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List