Doreen Mary Tillotson (née Robertshaw)

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 12 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:805
  1. Peter Tillotson

    I should like to pay tribute to the life of our dearest mother, mother-in-law, and granny. One of the things we admired most about her was that she was always so modest about everything she did, so this tribute is pieced together from many fragments that had to be prized out of her over the years.

    My mother was born on 21 May 1905—four years after Queen Victoria died—in Bradford, then the heart of the wool trade where her grandfather and great uncle had both founded mills (John Mitton & Co (Worsted Spinners) and Thomas Henry Shaw (Woolcombers)). Her father was a wool merchant. When he could not afford to send her to Bradford Girls' Grammar School, her teachers suggested she apply for a scholarship, and when she was awarded the top scholarship in the school, the director of education asked her parents to take her to meet him.

    On leaving school in 1923 she went to Leeds University Medical School. It was not then common for girls to go there, and at 18 she was one of only four girls in her year, with just 18 girls in the whole of the medical school. Soon afterwards, her parents moved to Menston, which meant walking 20 minutes to Guiseley, half an hour on the bus to Leeds, and then walking another 15 minutes to the university, twice a day. At 23 she was visiting the slums of Leeds and doing locums in Sheffield and York, and, for a spell, she worked in TB clinics.

    In 1929, a year after qualifying, she put her plate out in Menston and started a practice at the age …

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