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Biographical entry Jenkins, David Hughes (1917 - 1968)

FRCS 1948; MB ChB Wales 1940; MB BS London 1947; MS London 1952.

29 September 1917
Llanrhystwd, Cardiganshire
2 April 1968
General surgeon


David Jenkins was born on 29 September 1917, at Llanrhystwd, near Aberystwyth, in Cardiganshire. His father, a language graduate and later HM Inspector of Schools in Wales, was then in the Army and only that month had been promoted Captain and awarded the Military Cross. Following the war the family set up home in Cardiff where, at the age of 10, he became a pupil of Cardiff High School. Armed with a City of Cardiff Scholarship, he studied medicine at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire and the Welsh National School of Medicine, graduating BSc in 1937 and MB BCh in 1940. That same year he also took the MB of the University of London.

Hugh Jenkins was a distinguished student, and at medical school gained the John McLeaon Prize in midwifery, the Willie Seager Prize in surgery and the Butterworth Prize for "the best all-round candidate of the year". Colleagues were impressed by his amazing clarity of mind. Yet academic achievements were not attained at the expense of other activities. He was a keen sportsman, representing the medical school at rugby, and playing golf and tennis, and was an active member of the Medical Students' Club, of which he became treasurer. He was also co-founder of the students' show 'Anencephalics'.

On qualification, he was appointed house surgeon to Professor Lambert Rogers in Cardiff Royal Infirmary. Like his father before him, he was then off to the war as medical officer to the 5th Reconnaissance Regiment with the Persia and Iraq Force. Later he served with the 29th General Hospital in India, France and Germany and was graded surgical specialist. Following demobilisation in 1946, Hugh Jenkins passed the BS London. He remained in the Territorial Army while undertaking his formal surgical training in Cardiff. He also held appointments in the Christie Hospital, Manchester and in St Mark's Hospital. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1949, a Master of Surgery of the University of London in 1952 and was appointed consultant surgeon to the United Cardiff Hospitals in 1954.

Although a general surgeon, Hugh Jenkins' main interest was in the large intestine, particularly ulcerative colitis, and this brought him wide recognition. His extensive knowledge, keen judgement, impeccable surgical skill and meticulous attention to detail, were the hallmarks of excellence in this difficult branch of surgery. His deep concern for his patients and their problems brought particular benefit to those with colitis, who became largely dependent on his unfailing help and skill, both in the hospital and through the South Wales branch of the Ileostomy Association, of which he was President. Shortly before his death, he received a grant for a research assistant to study protein disorders in colitis - work which has since continued.

Although dedicated to surgery and the future of the medical services, Hugh Jenkins had wide interests and deep vision. An enthusiastic golfer and member of the Royal Porthcawl and Cardiff Golf Clubs, he won many a golf match by the same close attention to detail which marked his surgical practice. He was also a keen chess player, a skilled carpenter and photographer and a voracious reader of all literature, particularly history, world politics, biography and poetry. Deeply interested in the theatre and pictorial arts, he was, too, an inveterate traveller - both in a surgical capacity and as a lover of other lands and peoples. He spoke several languages fluently. He was a member of the Moynihan Chirurgical Club and a founder member of the Surgical Sixty Club.

In 1951 he married Mollie Bladon, a gold medallist of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and had two daughters, Louise and Abigail. In his home 'shop' was not allowed, and one could appreciate there, more than in any other place, the breadth of Hugh's intellect and knowledge and the concern and kindness which underlaid his life.

Jenkins died suddenly and tragically in Malta on 2 April 1968. His death left a great gap in the surgical life of Cardiff.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1968, 2, 182; Lancet 1968, 1, 871 with an appreciation by AGW].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England