Lives of the fellows

David Edward Jewitt

b.31 March 1938 d.26 February 2015
BSc Lond(1959) MB BS(1962) MRCS LRCP(1962) MRCP(1964) FRCP(1978) FESC(1988) FAHA(2001)

David Jewitt was an interventional consultant cardiologist at King’s College Hospital, London. He was director of the cardiac department from 1978 to 2003 and medical director of King’s Healthcare Trust 1994 to 1998.

David was born in Leeds, the oldest of three children. Sadly his father, Edward, died when he was six years old. Insurance taken out by his father enabled him to go to the Royal Commercial Travellers’ School, a boarding school in Pinner, at the age of seven. David worked hard at school and at the age of only 17 he went to King’s College, London, and joined the undergraduate course in medicine. He excelled in his medical studies. He won the University gold medal, qualified with honours in medicine, surgery and therapeutics, and was placed first in the final MB BS examinations in 1962.

As a medical student he worked as a porter at the Maudsley Hospital, a barman in the Tiger pub in Camberwell Green and as a postman. He also taught in a girls’ school and at one time taught them sewing!

After qualifying, he did his postgraduate training at the Postgraduate Medical School and Hammersmith Hospital. He won the prestigious British Heart Foundation fellowship to spend a year at Harvard, living with his first wife Anne (née Bufton) in Lexington, Massachusetts, before eventually moving to the cardiac department at King’s College Hospital in 1973. He became the youngest ever director of the cardiac department at King’s in 1978 and, through sheer hard work, tenacity and incredible political skills, he put the department on the map. During the many NHS re-organisations and consultations on the provision of cardiology and cardiac surgery in London and the South East, David successfully steered King’s cardiology through many a minefield and avoided threats of closure or merger.

David was well-known, admired and respected in both national and international cardiological circles. He was an invited speaker at many prestigious conferences, he was an active member of the British Cardiovascular Society and he worked for the British Heart Foundation, advising on project grant awards. David has trained more cardiologists than it is possible to list; most of them are now working in other prestigious institutions in the UK and around the world, including the USA, Australia and New Zealand. In 1994 David became medical director of King’s, where he successfully used the skills he had polished as departmental director to guide the institution through very difficult times. He successfully trod that difficult path of both representing and managing the consultant body, and he earned the respect of all his colleagues and peers.

David retired from the NHS in 2003, but carried on seeing private patients, he also became chairman of the King’s College research ethics committee, which provided him with the perfect excuse to keep in touch with all his friends and colleagues in the hospital. He maintained his interest in the institution right up until the end, even engaging in hospital gossip from his sick bed! For several years during his retirement he served on the town council of Westerham, the village close to his home in Kent.

David had three children, Edward, Kate and Hester. He loved to take them on holiday, especially to the Lake District and to his Mother’s home town of Hull. More exotically, he took them skiing and to Greece for holidays. These three children gave him seven very special grandchildren, whom he adored and spoiled.

In 2003 David married his second wife Philippa (Pippa) and became stepfather to Emma and Fergus, giving him a further five step grandchildren. Holidays were always a big part of life, the motto being ‘let’s travel while we are fit enough’. Together David and Pippa travelled the world, going to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to watch the gold cup polo matches. Barbados was a favourite destination with family members joining them. Many a holiday was spent in Canada, as David’s stepdaughter and family live in Vancouver; these holidays included a lot of travel including the Rocky Mountaineer rail train. Silverseas cruising was also a very popular choice of holidaying that they enjoyed together.

David was a very generous man, always ready to offer practical, financial, career and health advice to all. He loved sport, would watch football, cricket, golf and rugby, often going to venues, but on television if it was not possible to get to the grounds. He loved to watch polo and was a member of Cowdray Park Polo Club.

David was such a generous, fun, loving, kind, considerate man, a giant among men in every respect. We were privileged to have had such an incredible man in our lives.

He was survived by his wife Philippa, his three children, two stepchildren and in all 12 grandchildren.

Philippa Jewitt

(Volume XII, page web)

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