Lives of the fellows

Bidi Mary Evans

b.17 April 1929 d.25 January 2017
BA Cantab BChir(1954) MB(1955) MRCP(1956) FRCP(1980)

Bidi Evans was a consultant neurophysiologist at the Brook General Hospital, Woolwich and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. She was born in Kenley, Surrey the youngest child of Job Elias Wild (a public works contractor) and Hilda Wild (née Edwards). As a girl growing up in the 1930s, Bidi enjoyed life as the youngest child of a wealthy father. She often recalled her school days at Roedean, including being evacuated to Keswick, as some of the happiest times of her childhood. Other happy memories were times spent on her father’s farm at Hockerley in the Peak District and sailing on the various boats and yachts that were berthed at her father’s shipyard. One particularly memorable trip was spent fishing for tuna (or tunny) off the coast of Whitby when in 1947 Bidi caught a record-setting 714lb fish, which remains the women’s record for the largest fish caught in British waters today.

Excellence at Roedean was followed by gaining a place at Newnham College, Cambridge to study natural sciences, a fact of which she was immensely proud since becoming a doctor was all she had ever wanted to do. She undertook her clinical training at St Thomas’ Hospital, London and then held junior appointments at St Thomas’, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Middlesex and National (Queen Square) hospitals.

She later joined Walter Kennedy in the neurophysiology department at the South-East Thames Regional Neurological Centre at Brook General Hospital. She later became head of department and oversaw the transfer of the neurophysiology department from the Brook, first to the Maudsley and finally to King’s College Hospital, London, ending her career with the title of honorary consultant. Throughout this time, she provided a regional EEG (electroencephalography) service and continued research into the use of EEG, particularly in sleep and disorders of consciousness, where some of her papers were prescient. She was a leading light in the EEG Society and later the British Society for Clinical Neurophysiology and served on their committees for epilepsy and sleep medicine: from 1987 to 1990 she served as president.

She very much felt that women of her generation had to overcome significant barriers in the medical profession – women were then very much in a minority, and marriage and motherhood significantly impacted on a professional career. She wanted to specialise in paediatrics, but realising this then was almost impossible with a young family, followed the suggestion of Giuseppe Pampiglione [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.403] at Great Ormond Street to pursue a career in neurophysiology. Throughout her career, she was a much-valued member of the neuroscience team who could always be relied on for a common-sense opinion. She became an influential figure in clinical neurophysiology.

In 1957 Bidi married Geoffrey Evans and in quick succession had two sons, Stephen and Matthew, followed by two daughters, Rachel and Charlotte. Apart from medicine and her family, her great enthusiasm was for gardening. She and Geoffrey were keen members of the Garden History Society and Bidi documented their many travels in the UK and abroad with the society. She loved to share her wide knowledge and interests, becoming a garden guide at Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, and she was a keen participant at the local Women’s Institute country market.

Throughout her life she made many friends and often helped immensely and unselfishly when people were in real need. She was a passionate and formidable person who very much enjoyed a good argument and always left a strong impression on all who met her.

Charlotte Hurdman
Tim Fowler

(Volume XII, page web)

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