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Biographical entry Gibson, Sir Ronald George (1909 - 1989)

OBE 1961; CBE 1970; Knight Bachelor 1975; MRCS 1937; FRCS by election 1968; MA Cambridge 1932; FRCGP 1968; Hon LLD Wales 1965; LRCP 1937.

28 November 1909
27 May 1989
General practitioner


Ronald George Gibson, the only child of George Edward Gibson, a pharmacist, and of Gladys Muriel (née Prince), was born at Southampton on 28 November 1909. He was educated at Osborne House School, Romsey, and Mill Hill School before graduating from St John's College, Cambridge. He then went to St Bartholomew's Hospital where he qualified in 1937 before serving first as casualty officer and then as house physician to the children's department. His initial entry into general practice was interrupted by the second world war and he served in the RAMC from 1940 to 1945, first in Kenya and then in Somaliland, being demobilised with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On returning to general practice in Winchester in 1945 he soon became intensely interested in medical politics. After serving as honorary secretary and Chairman of the Winchester Division of the BMA he became secretary and then President of the Wessex Branch. He was a founder member of Lord Horder's Fellowship for Freedom in Medicine and became a member of Council of the BMA in 1950. By 1963 he became Chairman of the BMA's Representative Body and then Chairman of BMA Council in 1966.

Throughout these early years he built up a busy and successful group practice in Winchester where he took part in many and varied activities, being medical officer to Winchester College and to St Swithun's Girls School. As a family doctor he was deeply involved in his patients' problems for, behind a gruff exterior, lay a sensitive nature and a droll sense of humour. An active churchman, he became High Steward of Winchester Cathedral and later founded and inspired the Brendoncare Foundation for the care of the elderly, for which he raised more than one million pounds. His great interest in local and city affairs led to his appointment as a deputy lieutenant for the county of Hampshire. That devoted service both locally and nationally led to the award of the OBE in 1961, and the CBE in 1970.

But it was in medical politics and BMA affairs at a national level that Gibson was able to make a wider mark. When Chairman of BMA Council he travelled the country to elicit the views of the profession and, by founding the Junior Members Forum, did much to help his younger colleagues. He became a fellow of the BMA in 1961 and was awarded its gold medal in 1970. He was greatly admired as a fair, firm and gentlemanly negotiator who had to deal with a number of awkward politicians during his period of office. Active in the Royal College of General Practitioners, he was the first provost of the South East of England Faculty and Butterworth Medallist. He became an elected FRCS in 1968 and, as a liveryman of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries he was its Master in 1980.

Ronald Gibson found time to write a number of papers on a wide variety of medical subjects, and especially the care of the elderly. To some he may have seemed to specialise overmuch in chairing various national committees, perhaps, most notably, the Standing Medical Advisory Committee of the Department of Health. It was following this appointment, and his membership of an important enquiry into prison conditions in Northern Ireland, that he was awarded the accolade of Knight Bachelor. But Ronald generally had his priorities well organised and never lost sight of his primary interest in general practice. Outside his professional work he was keen on cricket, gardening and music and was always happiest when playing the piano. He had married Elizabeth Alberta Rainey in 1934, while still a student at Bart's, and they had two daughters, one of whom is married to a doctor. When he died on 27 May 1989, not long before his 80th birthday, he was survived by his wife and daughters. A memorial service was held in Winchester Cathedral on 16 September 1989.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1989, 298, 1574-1575].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England