Guy Christopher BrillBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4023 (Published 02 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4023
- Stephen Brill,
- Peter Burrows
Guy Christopher Brill (“Chris”) was born in Edenbridge in Kent and educated at St Edward’s School in Oxford. After doing his requisite two years service in the Royal Air Force at Box in Surrey, he went up to King’s College, Cambridge, where he excelled in medicine. His director of studies there, Dr Kendal Dixon, held him in great regard and commented that he would be eminently qualified to be a consultant. However, Chris already knew by that stage that he valued ongoing relationships with his patients and embarked on a career as a general practitioner.
After marrying Sally, whom he met while a houseman at St Thomas’s in London, Chris moved to Winchester in 1959. There he became the first ever vocational GP trainee in the country under Dr George Swift at St Clements surgery. This was a post linked to jobs in Winchester County Hospital, organised by the Nuffield Foundation. George and Chris more or less created the syllabus themselves as they went along, in what was an innovative development at that time.
Chris joined one of two GP partnerships in Alresford, which soon merged to form the Alresford Group Practice in a new surgery adjacent to the station. There he worked tirelessly building up his practice, of which he eventually became the senior partner. Chris was always concerned to look at the whole person, not just the illness, and insisted that the surgery should provide holistic care for its patients.
He was an enthusiast for the Royal College of General Practitioners, and served on the Wessex Faculty Board successively as treasurer (1974-6), chairman (1982-3), and provost (1992-3). His colleagues remember him as gentle and softly spoken, but always worth listening to when he did speak. He was a great teacher, and in his turn inspired many young GPs who trained under his supervision. He became an associate adviser at the Wessex Deanery, helping to develop GP vocational training to the high standard that it attained in Wessex during the 1980s.
Chris retired from practice in 1992, in part because of dissatisfaction with the new government contract, but also because his Christian faith led him to want to train as a lay reader. In this capacity he continued to minister to his local community by addressing their spiritual needs. In particular, families of his former patients greatly appreciated his ministry in conducting funerals which demonstrated his deep sense of dignity and care. He preached all his sermons without a single word of notes—such was his ability to remember the minutest of detail.
During his retirement, besides enjoying his love of gardening and music to the full, he found time to study for an Open University BA in art and also to form a first responder scheme in Alresford for townspeople to respond to local medical emergencies.
Sadly, Sally developed Alzheimer’s disease around the time of her 70th birthday, but Chris never complained and took on more of the household duties that she could no longer perform. Eventually it was clear that she needed constant expert care, so she moved to St Thomas Nursing Home in Basingstoke in April 2008. After this time Chris, seemingly aware that his ministry to his patients, his community, and now his wife were almost complete, started himself to decline in health. He also was admitted to St Thomas Nursing Home, where for the last 10 weeks he was reunited with Sally before passing away peacefully on 29 June 2009. He leaves two daughters, Penny and Ginny, and three sons, David, Stephen, and Andrew.
Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4023
Former general practitioner Alresford, Hampshire (b 8 March 1932; Cambridge/St Thomas’s Hospital, London, 1958; MA, FRCGP), d 29 June 2009.