Lives of the fellows

George Harwood

b.3 July 1939 d.23 June 2015
MB BS Lond(1970) MRCP(1975) FRCP(1985)

George Harwood was a consultant neurologist at the Brook Hospital, Greenwich, London. He was born in South Africa and came to England at a young age to be educated at Stonyhurst School. He was academically and musically gifted, playing the piano to a high standard. On leaving school, he elected not to go to university, but worked for a time for an antiquarian bookdealer, briefly as a journalist and later at Finchden Manor, a community for disturbed boys. At some point in his young adult years he trained as a psychotherapist.

He then entered the Middlesex Hospital Medical School and qualified in 1970. After house jobs at Wolverhampton and a senior house officer post at Edgware General, he became a registrar at the Brook Hospital and later a senior registrar at Nottingham University Hospital. He gained his MRCP in 1975. He was then appointed as a consultant neurologist to the regional neurological unit at the Brook Hospital and to Greenwich District Hospital and the Medway Health District. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1985.

During his time in south east London and Kent George was held in great esteem by all his peers, and his kindness and thoroughness was much appreciated by his patients. He was a fount of experience and knowledge, always available to and appreciated by all those working and training with him. When the Brook Hospital closed, George moved his sessions to King’s College Hospital, where his ability to provide more undergraduate teaching was some compensation for the closure of his beloved Brook.

George took training and education seriously as the first south London neurology training programme director. Many trainees have reason to appreciate his wisdom, advice and support, as have many consultants in the south east, since George always ensured that the newly appointed were well supported as they settled into post. In 2011 the George Harwood neuroscience unit at the Medway Maritime Hospital was opened as a fitting tribute to George’s contribution to neurology in the Medway.

George was someone for whom the term ‘polymath’ was entirely appropriate. He had two adjacent apartments in Blackheath. In one he lived with two grand pianos, a Bechstein and a Steinway, whilst the other contained his extensive library. Aside from his deep knowledge of neurology and the associated sciences of biology, chemistry and physiology, he had an extensive understanding of music, literature, painting and history. He was as comfortable discussing the options facing Alexander before the battle of Gaugamela as the difficulties in execution of an early Beethoven piano sonata. Often a fascinating insight would be prefaced with the phrase ‘as I am sure you know’.

George retired a little early in part due to ill health. Having lived for many years in Blackheath, he spent his final years happily at Morden College, a care home.

David Robson

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List