This section contains members' obituaries, and information about how to submit an obituary via our website.
Elaine Catherine Beer (formerly Wright, formerly Donoghue)
Died: 12 October 2020
Parents: GPs (Mother was in the first year of female students at Glasgow).
Career: Trained at the Middlesex Hospital (only the second year’s intake of women students). Special interest in learning disabilities – consultant at Queen Mary’s Carshalton, St Ebba’s Epsom, St Lawrence’s Caterham (also medical student tutor and Medical Director there) and Aston Hall Derby. Honorary Consultant St Thomas’ Hospital London. MD, PhD. SOAD for the MHRT. Fellow of the Gemmological Association. Declined two professorships.
Yeah, yeah, you probably know all that already (apart from the FGA). But there was a lot more to her than that. Here are a few things (in no particular order):
First vehicle: a turquoise motor scooter called Charlotta Lambretta.
Car she drove when she was 80: 3 litre Audi A4 Quattro.
Top speed achieved in it: at least double the legal limit.
Lifetime total speeding tickets: one – 34mph in the centre of Norwich.
Resided at: Sloane Street, SW1 (don’t get over excited – it was a very small and cheap flat). Then Sanderstead, Purley, Kennington, Derby, Teddington and finally a former psychiatric hospital in Norwich (where a former resident had signed his name in the living room window: Harry ‘Poisoner’ Smith….)
Hobbies: knitting, crochet, tatting (ideal for those boring waits at red traffic lights) cross stitch, Honiton lace, gold work, quilling, baking, soup making, disagreeing with the satnav, never taking the same route twice if she could find a different one, never eating the same dish as any other member of the group in a restaurant.
80th birthday request: a gliding lesson.
Memorable encounters: Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton (not together!).
Unpaid activities: cake supplier for the Salvation Army café, soup supplier for church lunches, member of church dove feeding team, coffee bar manager for community theatre (they wouldn’t let her be a barmaid because she had never actually been in a bar), blanket knitter for premature babies unit, member of the Norwich Cathedral Broderers (highly skilled volunteer conservators of ecclesiastical vestments and other antique church fabrics), member of the Norfolk Club. Longstanding member of the Wing of Friendship – writing letters to prisoners on Death Row in Texas, willing to stand as last friend at executions. Paid for construction of a village health clinic in the Philippines and supported several children through school and university there.
Travels included: Damascus, Palmyra, Bethlehem, Carthage, Istanbul, Odessa, Seville, Porto, Oran, Gibraltar, most of Europe and a good chunk of the UK.
What you should remember: A tireless champion of those who could not speak up or fight for themselves, someone who saw the worth in those that society chose to ignore. An inspirational teacher, parent and grandparent. Made real and lasting improvements in the care of people with learning disabilities but shunned limelight and spent her life devoting her enormous energies to helping others. A sad loss but a lasting legacy and happy memories for many people.
Dr Mamoona Rana lost her life to Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection on 16 April 2020 after being unwell with it for a brief period. She was a much loved, highly regarded, enormously valued and committed psychiatric trainee at North East London NHS Foundation Trust. She will be remembered as a frontline NHS worker who sacrificed her life in the line of duty.
Mamoona was born in Punjab, Pakistan, the youngest of four children. Her dad passed away at an early age and she was brought up by her mother who doted on her. She showed a keenness to help others from an early age which is what drove her towards medicine.
She graduated from Lahore Medical College and then passed the Pakistan Civil Service Exam. She secured a job in public service and very quickly rose to the eminent position of an assistant commissioner following which she and her husband emigrated to the UK. She completed a Master’s degree in Health Informatics at City University London and passed the PLAB exam in 2017.
Mamoona developed an interest in psychiatry after doing a clinical attachment with a consultant old age psychiatrist who noticed her caring and sympathetic nature, a listening ear and a desire to help others and encouraged her to take up a career in psychiatry. Mamoona embraced psychiatry with the eagerness of a “child who had found a new toy” and she put her heart and soul into it. She secured a training post in 2018, worked through her rotation posts with great dedication, as she felt she had finally found she wanted to do.
At an early stage in her career, she showed a keen interest in teaching and was often located with medical students on the wards instilling them with her newly-acquired knowledge of psychiatry. Her enthusiasm for learning was infectious. She had enormous potential and there is no doubt she would have contributed enormously towards psychiatry.
Mamoona was a calm, caring and loving person who was intelligent, witty and full of life. Her colleagues will miss her hugely. The trainee who she job-shared with at NELFT said:
“She not only saw the best in others, but was gifted in bringing it out. We were all touched by her remarkable kindness, wisdom and humour and feel her loss deeply. ”
Her husband, Dr Azeem Qureshi, an anaesthetist at Newham University hospital, remembers her as a great wife and mother and a remarkable woman who gave hope and joy to those around her. She was very artistic and had a keen interest in calligraphy; many of her works hang around her house and are a constant reminder of a remarkable person. She was also a very good cook and a devoted mother. She enjoyed entertaining people and had a large circle of friends, who miss her carefree laughter.
Mamoona was buried in East London. Very sadly, her family in Pakistan were unable to attend her funeral due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions. She is survived by her husband, Azeem, and their eight year old daughter Narmin.
Obituary by: Afifa Qazi
MA MB BCh Dublin (1959), MRCPSYCH
Joyce was a general adult consultant psychiatrist practicing in Hull.
She was born in Dublin, Ireland as the only daughter of a textile mill owner. She was sent to Glengara Park School in dun Laoghaire, Dublin, where she excelled in science and tennis, representing her school.
Joyce went to Trinity College Dublin to study Medicine in 1954, where she enjoyed the Dublin University Biological Society and where she met her fellow student and future husband Jim, remaining happily married for over 50 years. After Houseman jobs, Joyce spent some time in Northern Ireland training in anaesthetics for obstetrics and gynaecology.
Once married, Jim and Joyce moved to Dumfries, Scotland and started their family. Joyce took a career break from anaesthetics to raise her three children and subsequently moved to Hull (via Northallerton) in 1971. When the children had started school, she recommenced her training in anaesthetics. It was during this period that she was approached by the local psychiatric hospital, De la Pole Hospital, and asked if she would help anaesthetise patients on the Mother and Baby Ward for Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). As a young mother herself, she was fascinated by why some women suffered such acute postnatal depression – and her interest in psychiatry was born.
Joyce was in her forties when she became a consultant psychiatrist. Even after she officially retired, she was still practicing psychiatry into her mid 70s. It was in her forties that she required bilateral hip replacements, an experience that she was able to write about in several medical journals from the perspective of the doctor as the patient. She writes in the BMJ's ‘Personal papers’ in1984:
"Matters came to a head in the spring of 1983 when, as the duty psychiatrist, I was unable to straighten up after interviewing a patient in the cells at the local police station’"
She also published articles on claimants for compensation following war service and psychiatric aspects of urological conditions. It was said that she tried to preserve what is best among the older physical treatments (e.g. Medication, ECT) and combine them with the newer ‘therapies’ to give a ‘two feet on the ground’ approach.
Joyce enjoyed a 50-year medical career, after retirement working as a ‘second opinion’ until 2009. Both Joyce and Jim were active members of the BMA and both served separately as regional Presidents. They never missed the annual BMA meeting around the UK and frequently travelled all around the world on BMA conferences.
Joyce’s hobbies included stamp collecting and gardening. After Jim’s death in 2016, Joyce moved to Bishopstoke retirement village, Hampshire. She died peacefully from a subdural haemorrhage secondary to an unknown acute monoblastic leukaemia on 12 April 2020. Predeceased by her husband of 56 years Jim (Director of Public Health, Hull), in 2016, she leaves three children (Jonathan, Joanne and Douglas (Professor of Orthopaedics / Southampton)) and six grandchildren (James, Emily, Meg, Eleanor, Charles and Huw).
Obituary by: Doug Dunlop
The College in Scotland was deeply saddened to hear that former Chair, Dr Denise Coia DBE, passed away on 9 April 2020.
Paying tribute on social media, RCPsych in Scotland’s current Chair, Professor John Crichton commented “her extraordinary contribution to psychiatry, as well as the wider medical profession, can only be described as unmatched”. The immense list of all of her achievements and her impact on the profession is difficult to condense, but her accomplishments were ultimately recognised when included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2016 for services to mental health and healthcare quality improvement.
Initially a Consultant Psychiatrist working for Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, Dame Coia always had an interest in improving the delivery of mental health services, and set up several community teams and services in South Glasgow. From 1998, in addition to her clinical post, she worked for the Director of Planning and Implementation for Greater Glasgow Health Board within a joint social work/NHS mental health commissioning team. Its remit was to develop a ‘modernising mental health strategy’, focusing on shifting the balance of care from hospital to community settings. She designed specialist intensive community services providing an alternative to inpatient care; and keen to provide better support for young people with mental illness, she introduced early intervention services, leading the development in the treatment of people who present to acute hospitals with physical problems but who also have underlying mental health problems by delivering a new liaison psychiatry service and a self-harm nursing liaison team.
Dame Coia was also an active member within her Royal College, taking up the Officer’s role of RCPsych in Scotland Meetings Secretary in 1997, before becoming Vice Chair, then Chair from 2001-2005. During that term, she was instrumental in collating the views of psychiatrists regarding the proposals for the Mental Health (Care and Treatment)(Scotland) Act 2003.
Thereafter, acting as Principal Medical Officer for Mental Health for the Scottish Government from 2006-2011, Dame Coia was involved with working across a number of policy and performance directorates to support the development and delivery of national policy. During this tenure, in 2010, she was appointed Chair of the new national health body Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), whilst also adopting the role of Board member for the Care Inspectorate, its sister organisation.
Since 2017, she had been convener of Children in Scotland, the national agency for organisations working with children and their families. Latterly, she was asked to chair the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Task Force before stepping down in 2019 because of ill health. The taskforce was jointly commissioned by the Scottish Government & COSLA in June 2018 to identify the best way forward for children and young people’s mental health services in Scotland.
During her career, she has also held the roles of Senior Honorary Lecturer, Glasgow University Department of Psychological Medicines (1987-2011); Vice Chair of the Academy of Royal Colleges of Scotland (2002-2006); GMC Assessor, Supervisor and Advisor to Fitness to Practice Committees; and Chair, GMC Quality Scrutiny Board (London). In addition, from 1987 – 2012 she was involved in a voluntary capacity as a member of Support in Mind Scotland.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, wrote on social media that Coia’s “contribution to medicine, psychiatry and public service in Scotland was immense”. She was indeed a leader in the field of mental health, instrumental in the design and delivery of transformational mental health services; initially in the Glasgow area, and then nationally through her appointments in both government and senior public bodies. Consequently, the influence of her work has spread internationally.
She will be a great, great loss to the profession.
Colleagues remember her kindness and sense of fun, her sense of humour, approachability and consistent generosity with encouragement. Dr Pramod Jauhar, a colleague and friend of Dame Coia’s for many years, told the College “It was an honour and privilege to have enjoyed Dame Denise Coia’s friendship over the years. She was able to effect changes and improve the status and importance of mental health without acrimony, reflecting her calm, pleasant and affable manner. Despite her commitments, she remained a clinician who would be aptly described as a doctor’s doctor.”
Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with her family and friends at this difficult time.
If you have any personal comments or tributes you wish to make, please send contributions to Angela.email@example.com. The College in Scotland will be gathering a book of condolences.
Dr John Stuart Grimshaw passed away 23 May 2019 from Alzheimer’s.
His schooling was at Repton , Latham House. Here he met life long friends who played such an important part in his life. Similarly he enjoyed Jesus College Cambridge and University College London. He trained in Psychiatry as a Major in the RAMC at Netley and St Thomas’s London.
He was appointed consultant psychiatrist Southampton University Hospital in 1967, Honorary clinical tutor University of Southampton , member of the Home Office panel of senior consultant Psychiatrist and Member of the Mental Health Act Commission.
As a clinician he combined empathy with competence . A kind intelligent man , convivial, well informed, he possessed a great wit and charm and was always fastidiously polite and generous.
Amongst the many Tribunal roles that he undertook were Examiner and Observer of Exams at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Chairman of Southampton Medical Executive Committee . He was also the medical member for the Mental Health Review Tribunal for the South West Regions – a role he held for many years
Accepted as a Liveryman in the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries , as such he became a Freeman of the City of London.
John had a dress style that some might say was unique! Traditional but strangely quirky, lemon yellow trousers and old school ties, always content in his 70’s time warp of fashion.
He exhibited style on the Dance floor where he could mince and twirl with a lightness of foot that could have earned him a place on Strictly Come Dancing.
He was a happy traditionalist , who had a great love and knowledge of History and was a reliable source of facts and dates. Other great interests were Stamp collecting and he was elected as a member of the Royal Philatelic Society in 2010. He also enjoyed Steam Trains, Trams and Trolley buses.
He thoroughly enjoyed Hill walking – and guided by the great fell walking authors W.A Poucher and Wainright, he tramped and marched his way with others, in and around - up and over -the Peak District, the Lake district and Snowdonia which were some of his favourite places.
He married Anne in 1956 who died in 2018. He spent his final years in care suffering from Alzheimers. He leaves a daughter and son and three grandchildren.
Dr Chris Vassilas, who died suddenly in April 2019, was a highly respected retired Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry and Associate Medical Director for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust. He had also been Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer University of Birmingham.
Chris was born in North London, the eldest of three children. He attended his local comprehensive school before entering Liverpool University to read medicine in 1975. After qualification he trained in psychiatry in Edinburgh & later worked with Professor Gethin Morgan in Bristol, as Lecturer.
He was appointed to his first consultant post in old age psychiatry at Bury St Edmunds in 1992. He was elected Chair of the local Division of Psychiatry just a year later in 1993 and soon became a member of the local Joint Strategy Group for the Elderly in Suffolk. Chris moved as consultant to the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Birmingham in 1999 where he was Clinical Director and took on the role of assisting in the merger of services across the whole city of Birmingham.
Chris had an interest in Medical Education that began with his teaching experiences at Bristol. He became specialty tutor for Old Age Psychiatry in Bristol and then in Birmingham and later became Programme Director for Old Age Psychiatry and a valued member of the Regional Medical Education apparatus. He was the first Director of Medical Education in Birmingham introducing approaches to Continuing Education for Consultants that typified his pragmatic and efficient style. He examined for the University, the College and GMC and served on the College OSCE committee for many years.
Chris was a calm, consistent presence who contributed widely throughout the psychiatric community and perhaps particularly the psychiatric education community. Comments from a wide variety of colleagues used words such as “integrity”, “reliability”, “dedication” and “fairness”. Perhaps the comments that would have pleased him most were simply “the reason I chose psychiatry” from a former student now consultant in Birmingham and “Somebody who people aspired to be” from another.
Following his retirement from Birmingham, Chris worked for a period in Auckland, New Zealand which he enjoyed and which he and Janet followed by touring the South Sea Islands. He also continued his work and passion for medical education being a volunteer member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists educational initiative, teaching medical professionals and monks in Myanmar. He enjoyed active holidays, particularly diving and kayaking, as well as photography.
He is survived by his widow, Janet and daughter Eirini.
For 27 years as an NHS consultant, Sab Bhaumik lived a particular routine on Saturdays. He would turn up in his office at Leicester Frith Hospital to carry out the still pending bits of his academic work which invariably included teaching. Turning up to benefit from his generosity, would be a large number of students - from psychiatrists preparing for the Royal College’s membership exams to registrars getting ready for consultant interviews and consultants seeking guidance on assorted issues - clinical and otherwise.
I often teased him that these Saturday gatherings were hisdurbar and the response from this large hearted man was always a loud guffaw, as he continued with his long sustained routine. As a close friend remarked, Sab Bhaumik died the way he lived- on a Saturday afternoon in the grounds of Leicester Frith- albeit this time the cardiac ICU of Glenfield Hospital, surrounded by a large number of people he had taught over the years, an extended family that owed so much to this professor who always cared, who always had time.
Sab graduated in medicine from RG Kar Medical College in Calcutta in 1978 and then went on to work in the West Bengal Health Service in a place called Khatra. This rural outpost was as much a contrast as possible from the teeming metropolis that was Calcutta. What was lacking there in equipment, medication and infra structure, Sab made up with his commitment, compassion and honesty. These were traits that particularly endeared him to his patients who often travelled from miles around to see him. When he left after 3 years there were at least 200 people around the bus, waiting to see him off. Sab went on to join an MD programme in Pharmacology at the Benares Hindu University and it was with the medical students there that he honed the teaching skills that would go on to make him an inspirational communicator.
Coming to the UK in 1985, Sab Bhaumik chose Psychiatry, a medical specialty where he truly found his calling. Starting with the psychiatry rotation in North Wales in a hospital where his only son now works, he went on to complete a Diploma in Psychiatry from the University of London and then the MRCPsych. In February 1992, he joined Leicester Frith Hospital as a Consultant in the Psychiatry of Learning Disability. Over the next 27 years, he would remain with what is now Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, working in a variety of roles - lead clinician, clinical director, medical director and then after his retirement in 2013, a consultant psychiatrist and senior medical advisor to the board.
His influence in shaping policy went beyond the local. Within the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he was elected first as Chair of its Trent division and later as the Chair of the Faculty of Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability. He was credited with pioneering the tiered approach to mental healthcare provision and developing accessible information on medication for people with intellectual disability.
An author of over 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters, Sab edited two editions of the internationally acclaimed Frith guidelines for psychotropic medication use, was a member of the NICE guidelines panel on mental health problems in people
with learning disability and edited with me, the Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability, due to be published in January 2020. His work with diaspora organisations within the RCPsych, the struggle to gain equity of treatment outcomes
for patients from BAME communities and the campaign to target differential attainment among trainees from ethnically diverse backgrounds were some of his passionate causes.
The honours were many too. In 2005, he was the winner of the Hospital Doctor Award for Psychiatry Team of the Year, in 2006 he was awarded the OBE for services to medicine and in 2015, the Royal College of Psychiatrists gave him its highest honour, the Honorary Fellowship. Through all this, Sab remained his usual self deprecating self, never taking himself too seriously.
Through all this, his greatest attribute was that he remained a true fighter for his patients - a marginalized group of people with developmental disabilities and mental health difficulties who often had neither equity of access to healthcare nor equity of treatment outcomes. In his struggle to secure this equity, he was willing, sometimes at considerable personal cost, to speak out against the “anti intellectual pieties and facile compassion, all so triumphant in contemporary medicine,” that effectively disadvantaged patients from marginalized groups.
Sab Bhaumik died on 9 November 2019 at the age of 66, following a massive myocardial infarction. He is survived by his wife Sushmita and son Sugato. Sushmita, for long his anchor and arguably the only person who could possibly tell him no, found in the depths of her unexpected loss, the words that describe him best - “He had that magnetic quality to attract people- his honesty, sincerity , compassion and ability to rise above petty jealousies made him one of a kind. Like a comet he blazed into our lives touching everyone with love, laughter and hope – the world darkening as he left”.
Consultant Psychiatrist & Associate Dean (Advanced Learning), Royal College of Psychiatrists
Formerly Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Kanakaratnam worked at Fairfield Hospital/Weller Wing, Bedford Hospital as an Honorary Consultant, He passed away on 27 September 2019, aged 86 and a half.
Dr K, as he was fondly called at work (and Kanaks to many), was the son of an Ayurvedic medical practitioner and lecturer at the College of Indigenous Medicine in Colombo. His mother, Pauline studied at Cambridge University/ London School of Economics where she completed her degree. She also held a degree in English Literature.
Kanaks was educated at Royal College, Colombo, Sri Lanka and qualified as a medical graduate from the University of Ceylon, Colombo in 1960 and practised medicine and surgery in Galle and Jaffna.
He came to the UK in 1964 and joined Three Counties Hospital, which later became Fairfield Hospital in Bedfordshire. He was appointed Consultant Psychiatrist in 1971 at Fairfield and Bedford Hospitals (Weller Wing) where he worked for his entire life until retirement in 1999, and continued as an honorary consultant.
Kanaks was one of the most Senior Fellows of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the College in recognition of his long-standing membership and Fellowship held a minute’s silence at the opening of the Council meeting on 10/01/2020.
A towering figure
Kanaks was born in Sri Lanka but adopted as a loyal son of England where he spent almost his entire adult life. He was a towering figure in psychiatry for over half a century in Bedfordshire, having devoted all his working life to the people of this county.
At Fairfield Hospital, Kanaks worked in almost every adult specialty ranging from inpatient and community services to forensic and rehabilitation. At heart, he was a biological psychiatrist but never failed to recognise the benefits of psychotherapy and other models of treatment.
His eclectic approach to psychiatric formulations and treatments earned him the respect of not only his colleagues but also of wider medical community – physicians, surgeons and general practitioners.
His clinical and teaching achievements were considerable. He was the first Clinical Tutor for Beds & North Herts Mental Health Service appointed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1972.
He was an enthusiastic teacher and clinical tutor for many years. Hailing from Royal College, Colombo, it was no surprise that his school motto, Disce Aut Discede (learn or depart) was at the forefront of his training sessions, but always delivered with great understanding and compassion.
He was instrumental in bringing to England many trainee doctors from Sri Lanka to train here. Many are now Consultant Psychiatrists spread over the country, while others remained at Fairfield Hospital/Bedford Hospital for their career.
He lectured at the Nursing School regularly for 15 years and was on the Bedfordshire Nurse Education Committee. He conducted training seminars for senior social workers in Bedfordshire.
He pioneered the development of many clinical services including the first Alcohol Misuse Service, the Rehabilitation Service and the Old People’s Mental Health Service in the region. In the 1960’s he organized and implemented a GP service Occupational Health Department at Fairfield Hospital for many hospital staff – both resident and non-resident.
He was an avid all-round cricketer, playing for Fairfield Hospital, but he will be remembered mainly as an active player of Letchworth Cricket Club where he was known as ‘Doc’.
He was frequently reported in the local newspaper for his excellent performances with bat and ball. He loved his garden, food and travelling far and wide. He was a man of immense charm and wit and a wonderful story teller.
All those who were fortunate to have been his trainees will testify to his humane and considerate nature as well as his excellent teaching skills.
His consultant and management colleagues will remember him, not only for his wide knowledge and wise counsel, but also for his tact and diplomacy when dealing with thorny issues.
Above all, his patients (and he would never call them clients) will always recall his patience, kindness, tolerance and exceptional clinical acumen.
Kanaks was not only revered as a clinician and teacher, but also much loved and admired as a humble and self-effacing man who did not know the meaning of the word ego, despite being an psychiatrist.
The large gathering of doctors (young and old), nurses, social workers, friends and relatives at the recent memorial event was testimony to the tremendous respect and esteem that he enjoyed throughout his life.
He was a clinician, a teacher, an administrator, a leader, a much-loved friend and colleague, but above all, he was a very decent and honourable human being. He did not abide by any religion to know right from wrong, but was principled with a very strong moral compass.
He leaves his devoted partner Dianne, his brother Viswam, his many beloved nephews and nieces around the world, as well as his dear friends and loyal colleagues.
It is only fitting to conclude with the words of Horace, the Roman Poet:
Non omnis moriar – I shall not die altogether.
Obituary by: Dianne Cobbold-Davis, Longstanding partner to Kanaks