Gaythorne Derrick Teague

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 24 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1733
  1. Paul Main,
  2. Joy Main

Gaythorne Derrick Teague was born in Bedminster, Bristol, and grew up in a working class family. He was proud of his roots and always referred to himself as a Bedminster boy. He attended Luckwell School and the former South Central School before securing a place at Cotham Grammar School. He turned down the opportunity to go to Oxford University because his parents could not afford to send him away from home. Instead he read medicine at Bristol University. He once said that the death of his younger brother from blood poisoning in Bristol General Hospital in 1936, before antibiotics were available, had a lot to do with his interest in medicine. He recalled, as a medical student during the second world war, being on duty on the roofs of various civic buildings in Bristol, with the remit of dealing with incendiary bombs during the blitz. As a young man he served as a leader in the 171 Bedminster scout troop and helped to run an Anglican youth group.

He initially joined Dr Pollard, who practised on Coronation Road, the “Harley Street” of Bedminster. When the council housing estates of Hartcliffe and Withywood were built in 1952-54, he moved there to set up his own singlehanded practice. When he started, many of his family and friends, some from school, registered with him. He was one of the first GPs in the south west to have an appointments system, and he had some correspondence about this with Stephen Taylor after the publication of Taylor’s book Good General Practice. He was also a founder member of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

In 1953 Derrick obtained the diploma in public health, and served as a part time medical officer for Bristol’s Department of Public Health, under Robert Wofinden, medical officer and professor of public health, who established the first health centres in the UK. He also served as a part time medical officer for the National Dock Labour Board at Avonmouth, Cardiff, and Swansea docks. He was an NHS medical officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and then from 1951 to 1966 served as a medical officer in the Territorial Army, where he was promoted to the rank of major and, in 1966, was awarded the Territorial Decoration.

Derrick joined with Stanley Iles and Peggy Bowles to form a partnership and moved into the new Hartcliffe Health Centre in 1975. He had always taught medical students and in 1980, at the age of 56, after attending a new trainers’ course, he was appointed as a GP trainer. He retired from medical practice in 1989, having served in the NHS for 40 years. While in practice he was always active in the local community. He was medical officer for both Bedminster and Hartcliffe boxing clubs. In 1971 he was president of the Rotary Club of Bedminster.

He enjoyed amateur dramatics, starting in the Anglican youth group at St John’s, Bedminster. It was in this group that he met his future wife, Beryl, in 1943. He was also involved in the theatre group attached to the Anglican Church in Hartcliffe, and any patient consulting him who was in the same play as him would be called for their appointment by their stage name. He and Beryl were accomplished dancers; they achieved gold medals in their ballroom and Latin exams. Derrick learnt to horse ride in his 60s and had piano lessons into his mid-80s. He was always learning new skills, and, once proficient, he would move on to something new.

He was involved with the Bristol diocese from 1951 and served on parochial church councils, as church warden and as the first lay chairman of the Bedminster deanery synod, as well as on the Bristol diocesan synod and the Bishop of Bristol’s standing committee. In 1974 he was ordained as deacon and in 1975 as priest in Bristol Cathedral. While still in practice as a GP, he served as honorary curate at St Andrew’s Church, Hartcliffe, until 1986. He then served from 1986 as assistant priest in the United Benefice of Blagdon, Ubley, and Compton Martin in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. In his capacity as a priest, he was often asked by patients to officiate at christenings, marriages, and funerals.

In retirement he remained active in the community, as leader and treasurer of Blagdon Good Companions, member and chairman of the Memories of Bedminster group, and padre of the Bristol division of the Dunkirk Veterans Association. He was also chairman of the Bedminster local history society and he was awarded a certificate by Bedminster and Windmill Hill Life Long Learning Network in 2003.

In 2004 he received the Lord Mayor of Bristol’s medal for outstanding service to the community. The following year he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list, also for services to the community. His nominator stated “he has remained utterly committed to the people among whom he grew up, and has served them in a wide variety of professional and voluntary capacities, throughout a long life of selfless public service.”

Predeceased by his son, Jonathan, he leaves Beryl, his wife of 65 years; an older sister, Marguerite; two daughters, Lynda and Hilary; six grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

Former general practitioner and parish priest Hartcliffe and Withywood, Bristol (b 1924; q Bristol 1949; MBE, DPH, MRCGP), died from metastatic sarcoma on 29 January 2016.

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