Hewading 1Winners of the Sands Cox CHAAY pRIZE
Ronald Frank Fletcher (“Ron”)
Ronald Frank Fletcher
Ron played several major roles within The Sands Cox Charity being President in both 1999 and again in 2009. He was also Chair of the Executive Committee from 2004 until 2008.Most significantly as editor of Aesculapius 2002 to 2008 set the current style and standard of the Journal. His gentle style of chairing meetings disguised the efficient direction of the proceedings.
We are deeply indebted to him.
Martin Kendall Chairman.
The obituary below is wriiten by Ron's son.
Honorary consultant physician Birmingham City Hospital (b 1927; q Birmingham 1950; MD, PhD, FRCP), died from disseminated bladder cancer on19 June 2016.
Ronald Frank Fletcher (“Ron”) was born in Smethwick, in the West Midlands, on 30 January, 1927. He was to live, study, and work in Birmingham for nearly his entire life. His father and elder brother were engineers, and medicine was suggested as a good alternative career.
He attended King Edward’s School and moved from the medical sixth form to Birmingham University Medical School in 1944. He took a BSc in physiology, which stimulated his interest in both academic medicine, and endocrinology. Joining the university’s mountaineering club (he was president in his last year) started his lifelong enthusiasm for hill walking, scrambling, and climbing.
He qualified in December 1950, after retaking his surgical finals, and it was while doing a locum post at St Chad’s Hospital that he met his future wife, June Astill. They married in the spring of 1954, immediately after Ron returned from national service as a medical officer in the Suez Canal Zone and Libya. He then joined the newly opened metabolic and endocrine research unit at East Birmingham Hospital, under the mentorship of John Squire.
Having obtained membership of the Royal College of Physicians and completed his MD thesis (on body composition measurement using skin fold callipers), he spent a year at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in the US on an Eli Lilley fellowship, studying lipid analysis techniques.
After five years as a lecturer in medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, he took a consultant physician post at Dudley Road and St Chad’s hospitals in 1965. He was able to establish a successful endocrine clinic, and took on a share in the diabetes services in the 1970s. Away from clinical practice, his affinity for committee work, allied to a justified reputation for equanimity and calmness, led to his becoming chair of the hospital medical staff, vice chair of the West Birmingham Health Authority (1982-94), and a non-executive director at City Hospital Trust (1994-98).
Medicine and mountains combined in the 1970s, when Ron became a founding member of the Birmingham Medical Research Expeditionary Society, started by (now Professor) Jo Bradwell. He travelled with the society to Nepal, Ecuador, Kenya, and the Alps to research (and at times experience) acute mountain sickness.
Nearer home he rekindled his involvement in the Midland Association of Mountaineers, and worked extensively to develop its facilities in north Wales. Ron retired from his clinical post in 1991 but continued with some administrative work and a post as medical representative on war pensions appeals tribunals. With June, he travelled widely, and they frequently visited their static caravan on the south French coast. Her early death in 1997 affected him badly, but he remained active in many spheres and adapted to life alone.
His last five years were dominated by physical and cognitive decline, but fortunately he was able to remain in the family home in Harborne, where he had lived for 50 years. He leaves three children and four grandchildren.