Lives of the fellows

Samuel Emanuel Brill

b.25 August 1927 d.3 January 2014
MB ChB Glasg(1955) DIH(1968) MFOM(1978) FFOM(1982) FRCP(1986)

Samuel Emanuel ‘Monty’ Brill was chief medical officer of the Ford Motor Company and a former president of the Society of Occupational Medicine. He was born in Glasgow, the youngest of six children of Harry Brill, a clothing manufacturer, and Betsy Brill née Sunderland, a housewife, and was proud to be a Glaswegian. Before qualifying from Glasgow University in 1955 he served in the Royal Military Police.

After hospital appointments in East Kilbride and Glasgow, he established himself in general practice first in Glasgow and then in London. His older brother later joined him. Monty’s interest in occupational medicine may have been awakened by his brother being the medical officer for West Ham Football Club. Monty became a part-time medical officer to the Autolite Company in Enfield and gained his diploma in industrial health in 1968.

In April 1970 he was appointed as a full-time medical officer with Ford. His initial placement was at the Dagenham engine plant, the original medical department in Ford of Britain. His next appointment was as sole medical officer at the Ford tractor and radiator plants in Basildon, followed after a short time by a post at the Dagenham metal stamping and body plant as senior medical officer. Here he developed a special interest in the health aspects of welding, as well as the control of the use of lead.

When Geoffrey Channing retired as chief medical officer of Ford, Monty was appointed in 1979 in his place. His responsibilities extended not only to central office functions and policy making, but over occupational health departments in 15 large manufacturing plants, as well as a research and development centre and administrative units throughout the UK. His inclusion and involvement in meetings at Ford world headquarters in Detroit, USA, spoke highly of his reputation within the company.

During his time as chief medical officer he oversaw the introduction of computers to record the functions of each department. The organisation and training for this was an enormous task, but he achieved it with great success. His experience and personality gave him the ability to deal with both management and employees with efficient and cool fairness. In consequence, he was held in great respect, not only in the numerous plant occupational health departments throughout the company, but by management and trades unions alike.

He was secretary of the London section of the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and then national president from 1985 to 1986. He was elected a fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in 1982 and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1986.

In 1956 he married Cynthia Barr, who was also a Glaswegian. They had three children, twins Mark and Deborah, and Jeremy. Monty and Cynthia was very family orientated and were also perfect hosts. Cynthia was gifted in culinary art, only to be matched by Monty’s selection of fellow guests round the dinner table. They both enjoyed art, music and the theatre.

Monty was a competent wood worker. His workshop was equipped with a lathe and band saw, and he produced artefacts such as fruit bowls, which now grace the tables of his children. He played golf seriously and continued to play with his friends well into his final illness.

A particular interest was gardening and this may have been the reason, on Cynthia’s death, for his decision to plant a tree in Regent’s Park in her memory.

Monty was a kind gentleman, always the same to everyone whoever they were. In all the years I knew Monty, I never heard him raise his voice, whatever the situation. He was highly respected not only in Ford, but also in SOM and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

H Royston Kemble

[The Society of Occupational Medicine Samuel Emmanuel ‘Monty’ Brill, 1927-2014 – accessed 14 May 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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