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Alan Wilfrid Gough Goolden

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 27 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2965
  1. Alastair J Munro

Alan Wilfrid Gough Goolden, who died in 2015 at the age of 95, was a member of that great generation of doctors who came back from the war and helped to found the NHS and, by so doing, changed utterly, and for the better, the lives of the British people.

Alan’s background was conventional, his approach to life less so. He was born in Maidenhead in 1919. His father, Francis Goolden, was a naval officer, and his mother, Dorothy French, was from Ireland. As a boy, Alan had always assumed that he would follow his father into the navy, but a minor problem with his eyesight meant that he was turned down for naval service. Forced to change his plans, he applied to study medicine and entered St Bartholomew’s Medical School just before the second world war. In preparation for war, and the anticipated bombing of central London, preclinical students were taught in Cambridge, and many of the hospital’s services had been evacuated to hospitals around St Albans and Friern Barnet. After qualifying and doing house jobs at the Metropolitan Hospital in the East End of London, Alan’s original wish was granted and in 1944 he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a surgeon lieutenant. He served for two years and, on his discharge from the navy, worked first as registrar and then senior registrar in the radiotherapy department at the Royal South Hants Hospital. He then went to work with Constance Wood at the Hammersmith Hospital. He was surprised to be offered the position. Later on, he found out that his ticket of admission had been a paper that he had published in The BMJ in 1951, entitled “Radiation Cancer of the Pharynx.” He spent the rest of his career based at the Hammersmith but, through some quirk …

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