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These obituaries have been prepared by alumni and friends of St George's, University of London. If you would like to submit an obituary for an alumnus or former member of staff for inclusion on this webpage please email us.

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Professor Brian Fyffe Robinson (1929 – 2020)
Brian Fyffe Robinson

Professor Brian Fyffe Robinson sadly passed away on 5 December 2020 at the London Hospital at the age of 91 following a long illness. Professor Brian Robinson was born in Carshalton, Surrey, and educated at Sutton Grammar School during the Second World War. He studied medicine, anatomy and physiology at King's College in The Strand with clinical studies at St George's at St George’s, University of London, from 1958-1951.

After graduating, Brian joined St George's Hospital as a House Officer, later becoming a Senior Lecturer and a Reader. He then became the first Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine within the same institution, firstly at Hyde Park Corner and later at Tooting.

From 1962 – 1993, Professor Robinson collaborated with others on several papers concerning human pharmacological studies of peripheral veins and arteries with colleagues. During a two-year period of research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Washington (from 1965 - 67), he published with Professor Eugene Braunwald and Steve E. Epstein. Professor Eugene Braunwald was the first to define the pathophysiology of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and Steve E. Epstein was Chief of the Cardiology Branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda. Later, after returning to London, he published papers with Professor Tony Dornhorst, John Vane, Joe Collier and Patrick Vallance, amongst others, over a thirty year period. Brian had worked alongside other researchers who received the Nobel Prize, including Sir James Black and Sir John Robert Vane.

After leaving London, during retirement, Professor Robinson lived near Taunton, for 25 years. In 2014, whilst retired, Brian received a request to join a Committee within the Home Office advising the Prison Service. During this time, he worked upon methods to alleviate the risk of HIV infection amongst prison inmates and collaborated in training programs for Prison Staff.

Professor Kenneth Saunders (1936-2020)

A picture of Professor Saunders

We are sad to share the news that Kenneth Saunders, Emeritus Professor of Physiological Medicine, has died. Professor Saunders was a Professor of Medicine at St George's from 1980-1996.   

Professor Saunders is remembered by many former students as an outstanding teacher and clinician. He had a rich career in medicine, taking on several positions of responsibility throughout his career. As well as his role at St George’s, he took on junior and research posts at St Thomas' Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital and in the Cardiovascular Research Unit at the University of California, San Francisco.    

Professor Saunders is fondly remembered by his colleagues. Former colleague, Mark Noble, worked alongside him as a research fellow at Comroe’s Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) in the University of California, San Fransisco from 1966-1968. Mark Noble and Professor Rogers later set up a collaboration with the late John Widdicombe’s Physiology department.    

Mark says, “The recent death of Professor Ken Saunders is very sad and evokes memories of good past times. Ken was a great example of what a Professor of Medicine should be, being widely educated, fluent in Latin and general knowledge. His knowledge of Medicine was vast, with no super-speciality prejudices. However, he was tolerant of people with reasonable new ideas. Ken was for us, the archetypical, knowledgeable, gentleman doctor."  

Former St George’s colleague, Professor Peter Mortimer, says, “Ken was helpful and encouraging. He offered support where he could, but was never interfering. Looking back, I could not have expected anything more from him and my subsequent success with obtaining grants and establishing a laboratory was in no small part due to him. I will be forever grateful to him for that opportunity.”  

Professor Saunders spent almost a decade at Middlesex Hospital Medical School - first as a senior lecturer in Medicine, before becoming postgraduate sub-dean and later becoming a reader in Medicine there.  

From 1990-94, Professor Saunders was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of London and became an emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of London in 1996.   

Professor Saunders was a member of several societies and committees, including the General Medical Council and a special Advisory Committee on General Internal Medicine, and was also an honorary consultant physician to the Army for two years. He also co-founded the European Respiratory Society. 

He wrote a number of papers on respiratory medicine and science in Clinical Science, and was a Censor and international examiner of the Royal College of Physicians. He had a lifelong fascination with the Classics, adding the study of Eqyptian to Latin and Greek, and contributing to the understanding of medicine in Homer that is accepted as definitive by scholars - occupations that he joked could be done sitting down. His health had deteriorated and he died at home on April 5th of a longstanding motor neurone condition.  

Professor Saunders leaves behind his wife, Philippa, and his son and daughter Kate and Stephen. They will arrange a burial of his ashes in Cornwall, and - when possible - a celebration of his life in London  

If you would like to share your memories of Professor Saunders or messages of condolences, please email

Margaret Elizabeth Gardner (1926-2020)

Margaret gardner 1

Margaret Elizabeth Gardner was born in Chard, Somerset on 22 June 1926. After gaining her school certificate at Ilminster Girls’ Grammar School she trained in nursery nursing. She trained at the National Childrens’ Home, first at Holmwood Bristol, a home for nursery school children, and then at Harpenden caring for babies. She obtained her nursery nurses’ diploma before working at Oxted, then Woking, over a period of three years.   

In 1949, Margaret started her general nurse training at St George’s at our former campus in Hyde Park Corner. After completing her training, she continued to work at St George’s as a ward sister for several years before completing a nurse tutor course at Queen Elizabeth College, Holland Park. Margaret then returned to St George’s as a Nurse Tutor, where she stayed for another three years, before responding to a need for a nurse tutor at Wesley Guild Hospital (Ilesha) Nigeria. Margaret stayed at the hospital for 11 years between 1961 and 1972.   

On returning to Britain, she worked as a nurse tutor at University College Cardiff before becoming Director of Nurse Education at Southmead Hospital in Bristol until she retired. During this time she lived in Westbury on Trym in Bristol. She lived in her own home before moving to St Monica Trust Retirement Village until she died on 30th April 2020.   Margaret always had a strong Christian belief and devoted much time to supporting the work of the Methodist Church and to the service of others. Margaret’s cousin, Peter Warne, says, “She was an intelligent, humorous and generous woman, who used her gifts to support young people as they started their nursing careers.” 

Margaret Gardner new

Professor Saffron Whitehead (1948-2019)

Emeritus Professor of Endocrinology Saffron Whitehead sadly passed away on 18 February 2019. She will be remembered for raising the profile of endocrinology and women’s health through her research, writing, media and public engagement activities. She will be greatly missed by staff and students alike.

A photo of Saffron Whitehead.

Professor Whitehead was an eminent scientist with a passion for endocrinology and a real champion for women’s health. She was prolific author, and in fact her latest book Managing Obesity: a practical guide for clinicians was published alongside co-author Dr Gul Bano earlier this year. Across her academic career, she published 55 notable papers, five reviews and three endocrinology text books, which became definitive texts on many university degree courses. Saffron was a thoughtful and supportive colleague and supervisor, who gave willingly of her vast font of knowledge and wisdom.

Saffron gained her PhD in 1974 from McMaster University in Canada, where she specialised in Medical Sciences (Neuroendocrinology). Prior to that, she graduated from University College London in 1967-1970 with a BSc Physiology (Hons). Long before it became mainstream, she was researching the interactions of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) and hormones and how they impact on fertility and cancer. Saffron joined St George’s University of London in 1978 as lecturer in both endocrinology and reproduction. She was responsible, alongside Professor Helen Mason, for creating the third year Science of Reproduction module for the BSc/iBSc in Biomedical Science, and will be remembered fondly by her students across the years.

To help advance the public discussion around better understanding of science, she published articles in the media in publications such as New Scientist and The Guardian, under her married name, ‘Saffron Davies’. She was a constant advocate of women in science, having herself combined raising a family with maintaining a scientific career. She also contributed regularly to TV and radio shows, including appearances on BBC4’s ‘The Fantastical World of Hormones’ with John Wass and Radio 4’s ‘Women’s Hour’. She was the scientific advisor on ‘Tide Tables’ a 2011 play supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Society for Endocrinology (SfE). The play centred on the challenges of midlife as a time of significant biological change.

Saffron contributed to her scientific field beyond her teaching and research responsibilities with active roles in both the Physiology Society and the SfE. She was a member of the Physiology Society from 1980, edited the Physiology News (1994-98) and served on Council (1995-99). Likewise, Saffron served on the editorial board for The Endocrinologist for many years and was the editor from 2004-2005. She was the Chair of the Public Engagement committee for the SfE, also managing Press enquiries on publications and scientific breakthroughs for the Society.

Saffron was hard-working but always full of fun, and this was evident in the fact that despite retiring several years ago, she was still actively teaching and was a personal tutor at St George’s. Outside of her work, Saffron was also a governor for Oak Lodge School for the deaf. In addition she volunteered with the Shaw Trust, a charity helping people gain an education, enter work, develop their career, improve their wellbeing or rebuild their lives. Saffron was an active tennis player and loved to play the piano.

Saffron is survived by her husband Dr John Davies, three sons, daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.

Neil Manley (1984-2019)

We are sorry to announce the sudden death of Neil Manley following a road traffic accident on Sunday 30 June.A photo of Neil Manley.

Neil had completed a BA in Contemporary Media Practices at the University of Westminster before changing track and moving into Physiotherapy. After graduating from St George’s in 2013, Neil worked in various physiotherapy jobs in and out of London, including at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and the Southwark Enablement Team.

Neil was well-loved by his classmates, colleagues and patients for his warm and caring nature, and following his death his family has received many letters from those he treated, paying testament to his patience and compassion. Lecturers at St George’s have commented on his commitment and dedication to his studies and have shared fond memories of visiting him on placement, where he was popular with the patients in his care.

Should friends and classmates wish to show their support, Neil’s family asks that instead of sending flowers a donation be made to the London Air Ambulance service and St George's Neuro ICU, where Neil was treated. Neil will be sorely missed by those who knew him, but his family finds comfort in the care he received at the end of his life at St George's, a place he loved so much.

Dr Norton Lynn Short MBE (1934-2018)

Dr Norton Lynn Short MBE, who died in November 2018, attended St George’s from 1952-1958.

A portrait of Norton Lynn Short.

Norton was awarded his MBE for services to medicine in 1998, and became a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 2000, having dedicated his life to the advancement of medical science.

Having completed his degree at St George's, Norton went on to pursue a career spanning forty years as a GP in Kent. He published a range of articles on clinical and medico-legal subjects and also medical ethics.

Keen to share his knowledge with the next generation, Norton taught as part of the faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners between 2003-2010, where he was also an accreditation visitor from 1990 - 2006.

Norton took an interest in the management and wider success of the NHS, having held a position as a Healthy Authority member for Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust from 1985 to 1993. In addition, he was a Board Member of the Queens Nursing Institute from 1985-1993.

At home, his interests extended well beyond science, with travel, history and opera among his passions, even resulting in an MA degree. While completing his studies at St George's, Norton was also a member of the undergraduate Rugby team.

Norton held an impressive list of qualifications, including an MBBS ( Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery ) DRCOG (Diploma from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and MRCGP (Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners).

Norton leaves behind his wife Chrys Short and five children from two marriages. Both Norton's wife Chrys and his former wife Barbara, who also studied at St George's, were nurses. Four of his children now work in medicine and healthcare, with two daughters who went on to become nurses and two sons who followed in his footsteps to become doctors.

Our condolences go to his family and friends.

Professor Denis Mitchison (1919-2018)

Professor Denis Mitchison, who has died aged 98, will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the field of tuberculosis research. ‘Denny' as he was known, was Emeritus Professor in the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St George's, and only formally retired from academic life in 2015.A photo of Denis Michison.

As a pathologist in the 1940s, at the Brompton Hospital in London, Denis Mitchison carried out the first randomized controlled clinical trial which involved tuberculosis. He and his colleagues investigated the antibiotic streptomycin, comparing its efficacy with the then standard treatment, bed rest. He pioneered drug combinations to address antibiotic resistance which was already on the rise.

Later, as Director of the Medical Research Council Unit for Research on Drug Sensitivity in Tuberculosis, he turned his attention to the problem of TB in the developing world. He devised a pioneering set of trials in India that compared inpatient and outpatient treatment of TB. These showed that home care was just as effective as being held in a sanatorium for months and led to a new WHO plan to get treatment out to those who needed it.

His research on drug combinations led to the reduction of treatment periods, and he was at the forefront of developing so called ‘short-course' regimes. These short course regimens remain the basis of today's current standard TB therapy.

His enormous body of work was recorded in more than 250 publications and recognised with prestigious awards.

Even after his first ‘retirement' in 1985 he continued to innovate in the field, developing new techniques to measure early bactericidal activity of drugs and establishing new approaches to accelerate phase II clinical studies for TB drugs.

We extend our warmest sympathies to his family.

Sheila Evelyn Bradford (nee Haigh) (1938-2018)

Sheila Evelyn Bradford (nee Haigh), who completed her Nursing training at St George’s, died in December 2018. She was an enthusiastic member of the St George’s Nurse's League and attended their 25th and 50th year reunions.

A photo of Sheila Bradford.

Sheila was born in London in 1938 and suffered from scoliosis throughout her life but did not let this prevent her from having an active lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoyed playing squash and dancing, and took part in competitive sailing.

After completing her training at St George’s, she decided to complete an army short-service commission. Once accepted, she took and passed her Part 1 midwifery exam, and proceeded to the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) Depot and Training Centre (QATC). She was then posted to London Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital at Millbank, which later became Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital. There, she helped treat those in the services who were repatriated from worldwide units and military hospitals for specialist care.

Sheila met her husband David, a doctor in the army, when working at the same hospital, and they were engaged and married within the year – on his birthday on 12th December 1962. Shortly after becoming engaged she was posted to her first and only overseas post - to the British Military Hospital in Hanover, Germany. She stayed there for a few months before returning to the UK to get married.

Sheila was fascinated by different cultures and she and her husband enjoyed travelling. She spent some of her time abroad teaching English to Chinese friends in Hong Kong, and later learnt German while back in Hannover many years after her solo posting. They would later spend much of their time in Christchurch, New Zealand, where their daughter Tafflyn lives.

Sheila leaves behind her two daughters Tafflyn and Melissa, eight grandchildren and a great grandson. Our condolences and best wishes to her family.

Nigel Gilmour (1953- 2011)

Nigel Gilmour

Nigel was brought up in Guernsey and Dorset and did his pre-clinical training at University College London.  We were allocated rooms in a shared house in Norbury and moved together to another house in Balham and then a flat in Tooting High Street.

Nigel had several enduring interests---motorbikes, hockey and historic architecture---apart from medicine.

He was proud owner of a T120 Triumph Bonneville which was sadly stolen from outside the Tooting flat.

Nigel was captain of the SGHMS hockey team.

I remember him enthusiastically clambering over the site of a Turkish amphitheatre and pointing out interesting features of old churches.

Nigel initially aimed at a career in Surgery, but had difficulty with the exams and eventually settled down to a career as a GP in Sussex.

He eventually married an Art Dealer and they made their home in a listed manor house in a delightful Oxfordshire village, where he delighted in looking after the grounds and garden.  He still owned a large motorbike.

He developed cardiac arrhythmias and despite expert assessment died suddenly at home.

Nigel was my best man and I returned the favour.

Obituary written by friend and classmate Keith Mundy.

Grant Blair (1955 - 2010)


Grant attended St George’s from  1972-1977. He was a GP in the Lillie Road practice in Fulham from 1980-2010, and became senior partner in 2005.  He was also  senior teaching fellow and final year GP course coordinator for Primary Care at  Imperial College. For many years he was the joint head of the year 6 student assistantship on the undergraduate medicine course.  He became an advisor for the PCT on primary care in HMP Wormwood Scrubs and worked on a system redesign for the Prison Health Service. 

In 2006 he took a four-week sabbatical in China, organised through the RCGP,  to advance  Primary Health Care in China.  This was the start of a great working relationship with the health service in Zhejiang province, centred in Hangzhou (a major city about three hours from Shanghai).  He devised with colleagues  a curriculum to enhance the consultation and   communication skills community physicians locally.  He visited universities, teaching students and modelling the kind of consultation he would do at home. 

For all his long years as a stalwart teacher of Primary Care at Imperial and its delivery at Lillie Rd Practice in Fulham, it was his contribution to the development of the Chinese Health Service of which he was really proud. In the last month of his life a delegation from Hangzhou came to see him and present a special letter of appreciation. This described him as the ‘one who has dug the well for primary care in Zhejiang’. He was delighted with it, and with being made an honorary consultant in community health care in Zhejiang. Grant was a devoted family man, and is survived by his wife Alison and two daughters Eve and Lottie.

Obituary written by friend and classmate George Turner.

Dr Edward Dunbar (1947-2018)

We are sad to record the death of Dr Edward M “Ed” Dunbar, who graduated from St George's in 1972. A phot of Dr Edward Dunbar in an athletic team photo.

Edward died suddenly at home on 6 December. He was an irrepressible character and a highly respected consultant in infectious diseases in Manchester and the North West.

Edward had a special interest in, and commitment to, management of HIV infection, also travelling to Africa to support communities there. He was a brilliant runner in his youth, being part of the team that brought the Hospitals Cup running championship to St. George's for the first time in our history in 1967. His devotion to causes was passionate – exemplified not only by his approach to high quality clinical care but also his support for the Wales rugby team.

Edward's wife is alumna Professor Jacky Hayden, who graduated in 1974 and worked as a GP before being appointed as Dean of Postgraduate Medical Studies for the North Western Deanery NHS North and Manchester. There, she established systematic processes to ensure that doctors and dentists completing training to provide the highest possible patient care. Jacky has also contributed to several other boards and committees such as Medical Education England and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Our condolences and best wishes to Jacky and their two sons.


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