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Tribute to Dr Handfield-Jones

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Dr Philip Handfield Jones

Many older members of the Haddenham community will recall Dr Philip Handfield-Jones, the local GP for many years. We are very saddened to report his recent passing. Below, retired GP Dr Hugh Stradling offers some thoughts and memories of his former colleague.

In memory of a remarkable village doctor . . .

Dr Philip Handfield-Jones MRCP, FRCGP

Philip was the son of an eminent surgeon in London, Ronald Montague Handfield-Jones and Elizabeth Merriman Handfield-Jones, an anaesthetist in Oxford. He followed his parents into medicine and after a short time (1947) as a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (1), entered General Practice in Haddenham in the early 1950s. Whilst awaiting a suitable house to become available in Churchway, he was based at the Red Lion pub at Churchend for a short period. He initiated the building of the health centre by the library (now used as a fitness gym) as the practice grew and space for a partner was needed.

He was a very astute physician who was well loved by patients and colleagues alike. He was involved in many differing roles in the medical world with particular interests in General practice obstetrics and the training of new general practitioners (2). There are quite a number of publications, authored and co-authored by him in these two areas. He was also one of the fifty founder members of the Royal College of GPs.

I was privileged to be his first trainee and to discover not only his wealth of knowledge but also his amazing ability to encourage and enable a person to develop. He has remained an inspiration to me ever since.

He was very interested in village life and I remember him giving talks and showing a film about his forerunner, Dr Patterson and other village notables. There is also a recording of his interviews of the oldest Haddenham resident reproduced in "The Haddenham Chronicles No.4".

He had a number of 'outside interests' in his life. He was a singer and regularly sang with the choir at Ashfold school where he was also the school doctor. I also had the privilege of accompanying him at occasional musical evenings too. He loved sailing and used to rent a boat for holidays, sailing around the south coast. And his bee keeping!!

Soon after his arrival in Haddenham he married Heather who was also to become a very important person in the village as one of the founder members of the Fish Scheme.

On his retirement after 31 years in the village, he and Heather moved to Cornwall where he bought a yacht for summer sailing and a lathe for wood turning in the winter!

He was a man of many parts, the like of whom we rarely see. He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Dr Hugh Stradling

2. SELECTING TRAINERS a letter in the British Journal of General Practice, 1979


Dr Jonathan Sadler also wished to add some personal reflections:

I remember Philip with admiration, fondness, humility and especially gratitude. He was a very special man, doctor and partner.

I was tremendously influenced, as I am sure were Drs Hugh Stradling & Robin Wilson, by his enthusiasm for general practice, his commitment to his patients, to GP graduate and post-graduate education and his support and kindness to me and my wife, Rosalie.

He was never ruffled, never spoke an unkind word, was always sympathetic and supportive. I have memories of him always cheerily greeting his patients. They felt welcome, they felt he was approachable and that they were never wasting his time. I like to think that a little of that example rubbed off on me.

The Haddenham practice was considered the best in the Aylesbury Vale region when I joined it and remained so until Philip's retirement and due to his example I think for many years it still remained one of the best. I was very lucky to be a GP in Haddenham but even luckier that Philip was my partner.