Lives of the fellows

Philip Tidswell

b.2 August 1959 d.2 September 2015
MB BS Lond(1984) MRCP(1987) FRCP(1999)

Philip Tidswell was a consultant neurologist in Preston and Blackburn. He grew up in Kemsing, Kent, with his parents, Kenneth Bernard Tidswell, a civil servant, and Emily Rose Tidswell, a housewife, and his younger brother, Keith. He attended the Judd School, where he excelled in the sciences, spurred by a fascination with nature, in particular botany and mushroom hunting. Following school, he completed a ski season in Val d'Isère, working in a hotel kitchen, honing his skills in skiing and cooking, which would last his lifetime.

He was awarded a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he read medicine and pursued his musical interests in both the choir and a comedic barbershop quartet, whose most memorable of tunes described the anatomical location of haemorrhoids! It was during his time as a student he met his first wife, Alison (née Hancock), whilst walking the Pennine Way, with whom he moved to London to continue his medical training at the London Hospital, graduating in 1984. He completed his house years in Chichester and the London and senior house jobs at Bradford Royal Infirmary and the Middleton Tuberculosis Hospital, where he was noted for his bright spirit and passion for the health of patients, including the novel step of sending the local MP a copy of every death certificate where smoking had contributed.

Those who knew Philip will remember a nature perfect for a career in neurology, particularly his fascination with the nature and pathology of the human condition, diagnostic sleuthery and considered thought. He completed his registrar training in Sheffield and Leeds, and began work towards a master’s degree looking at the neuropsychiatric effects of Parkinson’s disease, although he left this uncompleted on his appointment to a consultant’s post in Preston and Blackburn.

It was as a consultant that he established himself as a solid general neurologist with an interest in epilepsy and movement disorders, and was known for his staunch belief in upholding rigorous clinical standards and his flamboyant dress sense! It was here that he met his second wife, Anne Cairns, a specialist Parkinson’s disease nurse.

Outside of work he was the consummate bon viveur, with a myriad of interests and hobbies, including cryptic crosswords, tennis, skiing, shooting, opera, croquet, classical music and tending to his two allotments. He only narrowly missed becoming a morris dancer after this hobby was vetoed by his children. Musically, his talents extended to the clarinet, in which he achieved grade eight, bell ringing across the north-west region, choral music and violin in the local orchestra. Those who were lucky enough to have dined at Philip’s house will know he was a highly skilled chef, encompassing all techniques from sous-vide to the barbeque, and was always able to provide the perfect accompaniment, thanks to his discerning taste in wine.

He had planned to retire to France, where he had a modest rustic house in south-east Charente, to continue to practise his fluency in the language and enjoy his love of food and wine, but he was diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 51. He managed a further four fulfilling years despite the barbaric nature of the disease, and faced the treatments and their side effects with stoicism and bravery. He was skiing five months before his death and playing tennis only two weeks before. He succumbed to the illness whilst at home, surrounded by his family, and is buried in a woodland park near Entwistle. Lancashire.

He is held in loving memory by his wife, Anne, daughter Katharine, a clinical psychologist specialising in child and adolescent mental health, son Robert, soon to become an intensive care medicine registrar in London, and stepson, Alex, who is embarking on a career in IT.

Robert Tidswell

[BMJ 2016 352 1057 www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i1057?hwoasp=authn%3A1479984582%3A1019339%3A1452831428%3A0%3A0%3AULy8hz1WzFls5M7po9OwkQ%3D%3D – accessed 23 November 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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