Sylvia Madeleine Watkins

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 24 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5031
  1. John Watkins

Sylvia Madeleine Watkins had a reputation as an exceptionally kind and caring physician, qualities much valued by her patients. In her retirement, she committed her energies to postgraduate development in several African medical schools. She was also an accomplished violinist, involved with chamber and orchestral music throughout her life.


Sylvia was born into a family of doctors—the 12th in six generations, ranging from Timothy Watkins, surgeon apothecary in the 18th century, to her father, Kenneth Harold Watkins (1903-38), a urological surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, and her brother,. Peter Watkins (FRCP). She always excelled academically, was determined to be a doctor, and gained a place at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, followed by clinical studies at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She undertook junior posts at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and in Leicester, passed the MRCP just three years later (1964), and was elected FRCP in 1980. She was at this stage determined to pursue a career in neurology. To this end, and using her linguistic skills (fluent in German and French), she worked as a registrar at the University Nervenklinik in Heidelberg, before returning to England. Subsequently she persevered with general internal medicine as senior registrar at the Royal Free Hospital in …

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