Lives of the fellows

Bryan Moore-Smith

b.6 November 1930 d.19 March 2013
BM BCh Oxon(1955) MRCP(1964) FRCP(1978)

Bryan Moore-Smith was a consultant geriatrician in Ipswich. He was born in London. His father, Cyril Moore-Smith, trained in medicine in Edinburgh and was a GP in Woolwich. His Irish mother spent much of her youth in France, living in a Catholic convent, and then trained as a nurse at St John’s Hospital, London. Bryan lost his older brother and father before he was 10. He was educated at Ampleforth College, and then studied medicine at Oriel College, Oxford, and St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, London. He qualified MB BCh in 1955.

After house posts at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Tottenham, Bryan completed his National Service in the RAF. During this time he was deployed to Christmas Island in the Pacific as a medical officer, where he witnessed the testing of the British H-bomb in 1957 – the so-called ‘Operation Grapple’.

Bryan was a medical registrar at the Essex County Hospital, Colchester, Kingston Hospital and Richmond Royal Hospital, and decided to specialise in geriatric medicine in the early 1960s. He became a senior registrar to John Agate [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.3] in Ipswich, becoming a consultant there in 1968 and helping to transform a department consisting of four rural long-stay hospitals into one based in a new district general hospital acute assessment and rehabilitation unit.

A devout Catholic, he devoted his professional life to providing compassionate, high quality care locally and to promoting services for older people nationally. He helped to set up the Royal College of Physicians’ diploma in geriatric medicine. He was awarded the British Geriatrics Society president’s medal in 1993. He held office in many local charities.

Highly respected by his clinical colleagues, his negotiating skills were quietly effective in hospital management. Generations of medical and psychiatric trainees gratefully remember his teaching. As a colleague he was a bridge-builder. He was self-effacing, always interested in the ideas of others and generous with his time, shy but with a sense of humour and an infectious enthusiasm for life. Many secretaries and trainees will remember the panache with which he drove them to peripheral clinics in his fast cars. His love of English was legendary; his clinical letters often read like beautifully crafted short stories.

Away from work he was a loving husband, father and proud grandfather. In 1962 he married Elizabeth Dale, who was training as a children’s nurse at the Westminster Hospital. He had a passion for growing roses and a tenacious desire to craft three and a half acres of garden in just the way he and Elizabeth wanted it – a garden complete with three ponds, an island and a personally constructed waterfall. He was a generous host who enjoyed sharing his recently discovered wines, and, most memorably, a gentleman with a persistent twinkle in his eye.

Bryan died from Parkinson’s disease and was survived by his devoted wife Elizabeth, their children, Caroline and James, and five grandchildren.

James Moore-Smith
Martin Stevens
Peter Phillips

[BMJ 2013 347 5461 – accessed 30 April 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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