Obituary: Dr George Stockdill

Dr George Stockdill, who died on 6 April 2013, was a native of Lanarkshire.

He graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1969, and was appointed consultant haematologist at Edinburgh Western General Hospital in 1981, moving to

the Borders in 1986 as sole consultant in haematology (specialising in diseases of the blood).

George had the vision to see the need for this service for the people of the Borders, and it was this challenge, along with the allure of the new BGH that brought to the Borders one of the top specialists in his field.

After a year at Peel, he set up the new haematology laboratory and blood bank at BGH. He always treated the laboratory staff with courtesy and respect, and they in turn held George in the highest esteem, both professionally and personally.

George’s first priority, though, was always the patient. His quiet, courteous but frank manner readily put his patients at ease and gave them confidence. He never hid the truth about their illness from his patients, but was able to help and guide them to overcome their fears and worries. He showed the same compassion towards grieving relatives and friends.

In his own words, “I truly enjoyed all aspects of my work, but it was the patient contact that provided the buzz”.

Building on the successful haematology service, George set up an equally welcome cancer treatment clinic, saving many patients from arduous journeys to and from Edinburgh. All of this represented a huge workload, but George shouldered all of it, at great personal cost, for the sake of improving the lives of Borders patients.

For many years George was the postgraduate tutor for the medical staff at BGH. He was always on hand to support and guide junior doctors in their career choices, and his advice could be inspirational. He was a kind, considerate colleague, offering gentle but firm advice where it was required, and was always a wise counsellor to the many young doctors who came to his office to seek help and advice.

George enjoyed nothing better than a discussion with colleagues and friends, and he was often to be found deep in conversation with a colleague long after normal working hours; sometimes seriously discussing a patient’s problems, and sometimes setting the world of medicine, or rugby, to rights. Never afraid to speak his mind but always careful in the words he used, he was a man of integrity, loyalty and honesty.

Typical of George was his sensitivity to a difficult, tense situation and his ability to spot a potential problem and defuse it promptly with the ready humour for which he was famous.

George, his wife Elizabeth, and his three daughters were a close and loving family. He was enormously proud of his girls; a nurse, a doctor and a teacher. He delighted in the arrival of each of his eight grandchildren.

George was a generous host, and he and Elizabeth enjoyed entertaining friends and colleagues. He was a delight to have as a guest. Always entertaining and informative, he could converse with anyone on almost any subject, serious, topical or frivolous. Many good dinners and latterly, in retirement, lunches were enjoyed in the company of Elizabeth and George. As a friend, too, he was loyal, dependable and thoughtful, always sensitive and mindful of the feelings and opinions of others.

George was an artist of note, exhibiting in galleries in Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as locally. There had been little time during a very busy working life for this, and he returned to his hobby with enthusiasm in retirement. George’s inspiration was principally the ever changing atmospheric conditions of the Western Isles and West coast of Scotland. He worked mainly in acrylics. Some of his work hangs in the BGH, on the top floor corridor.

He and Elizabeth travelled widely, something there had been little opportunity for in working years. George’s enjoyment of his well-earned retirement was marred by the diagnosis, about eight years ago, of prostate cancer, against which he fought a long, difficult and often painful battle with determination and bravery.

St Paul called Luke the “beloved physician”, always dependable, always by his side to comfort him, a true and loyal friend. To his patients, his colleagues, his friends and his family, George Stockdill was a beloved physician.