Welcome to the hoolet website, the online version of the magazine for GPs in Scotland from the RCGP Scotland. hoolet is one of the added extras membership of the College brings to brighten up your day and hoolet web extra is the icing on the cake.
At hoolet we receive a lot of submissions, and space constraints mean we cannot publish all of them in the printed version. However, we hate to see talent going to waste and the web extra contains articles, lectures and titbits which could not be squeezed into the hard copy.
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OBITUARY: DONALD GIRDWOOD
Donald Girdwood died peacefully on the 4th July 2001 after a short illness on the farm Primeston near Bedford.
He was born in 1917 in Johannesburg and educated at St. John’s College, where he matriculated in 1934. Following the example of his father and grandfather, he studied medicine at Edinburgh University and qualified in 1940. After completing his residency, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served with the 51st Highland Division. In 1942, this division was convoyed by troop ship to join the 8th Army in North Africa. En route they docked at Durban and, during this brief period of eight hours, he became engaged to his life long friend Joy Penberthy-Watkins. His service in North Africa included the battle of El Alamein, where he was mentioned in despatches. Thereafter, he moved to Sicily and Italy. The 51st Highland Division then returned to Britain to prepare for the invasion of Europe and took part in the Normandy landings.
Joy, his fiancee, completed her training as a nurse and managed to make her way to Britain to serve in that capacity. They were only to meet and get married in January 1945, two and a half years after becoming engaged, when Donald had his first teave following the Normandy invasion. In the event, the wedding ceremony was delayed 24 hours by a V2 bomb which disrupted the route.
After the war they spent a further two years in Scotland where their eldest son was born. They then returned to Durban and Donald worked at King Edward VIII hospital, during which time his eldest daughter was born.
Donald’s dream, after years of separation and disruption by war, was to find a country practice. The opportunity arose in 1949 when he heard that Dr Wlllem Vosloo of Bedford was looking for a locum. Having found Bedford on the map, the family travelled there during one of the worst droughts of the century. Despite the drought and dust, they liked what they saw and Donald joined the practice. They settled, built a house and their family expanded with a further son and daughter. The practice continued until the retirement of Dr Vosloo in 1976 and Donald formed a new partnership with Dr John McNicol until his retirement in 1983. He continued to help out at the outpatient clinic for many years after this.
Donald was essentially a warm hearted and unassuming/man with a genuine interest in others. These qualities, combined with his undoubted ability as a doctor, his quiet, self deprecatory humour, endeared him not only to those who became patients but also to those who came to know him. Joining a well establishedand respected practitioner, he was initially content to complement the work of the senior pn partner and devote his considerable energies to the needs of the underprivileged section of the community. Inevitably, however, his influence and popularity spread and he became entrenched as a true family doctor to the entire community. In later years, he had the satisfaction of confining young mothers whom as infants he had delivered.
Throughout his career he was always conscious of the need to keep abreast with new developments and involved himself with Medical Association matters, serving a term as president of the Cape Eastern branch.
He and his wife Joy were involved in many community projects including the town council, SANTA and KUPAGANI. His rewards were many but above all was the enduring friendship of the community. It was this friendship that sustained him after the death of Joy in 1990.
Always a busy person, he pursued his hobby of photography and studied the local history of the area, played bridge twice a week and kept fit by cycling. Despite being unable to play golf after his retirement, he continued to enjoy social contact with the club and all these activities, combined with frequent visits to and from his family, made for a happy and productive retirement.
His grandfather’s tombstone, inscribed in Xhosa and erected and paid for by his congregation, stands next to Tutura church yard near Butterworth. Translated a portion of it reads: “He worked for the wellbeing of the people by healing the sick and by spiritual guidance. This stone was erected out of thankfulness for his love and sympathetic care and as an expression of their sorrow at losing their father and friend.” This is perhaps also a fitting epitaph for Donald Girdwood. He is survived by his four children and ten grandchildren.