Intended for healthcare professionals


Charles Arthur Veys

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 27 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m703
  1. Peter Croft,
  2. Jane Veys,
  3. Paul Veys

Charles Arthur Veys (“Carl”) was born in Antwerp, the middle of three French speaking brothers, to Belgian parents (Marcel and Madeleine), who had managed to bridge the French/Flemish divide. In 1935 the family moved to Sheffield, where Marcel, an engineer who had qualified from Louvain University, joined Tinsley Wire Industries as chief executive. As a young boy in the later war years, Charles accompanied his father on weekend factory visits, and concern about the impact of working conditions on employees’ health was to inspire and shape the direction and drive of Charles’s future medical career.

Charles and his brothers were educated at a Jesuit boarding school, Mount St Mary’s, on the outskirts of Sheffield, safe from the bombing of the city. Charles went on to study medicine at Liverpool University. There he met Sally Sutton, the nurse who accepted his offer of help in cleaning the operating theatre and his subsequent proposal of marriage, a happy union that was to last until his death more than 60 years later.

Charles’ first job was national service and he chose a three year medical posting to Tanganyika, now Tanzania, so that Sally could go with him. His main responsibility was the health of 700 King’s African Rifles troops and their families, but he did find time to prescribe Dover’s powder for an ailing John Wayne on the film set of Hatari. He also set out to earn the trust of the local Masai community by learning Swahili, while his wider interest …

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