Skip to main content
Other pages in this section

Obituary: Malcolm Campbell Macnaughton

Professor Alan Cameron writes...

Thank you for asking me to pay tribute to Professor Sir Malcolm Campbell Macnaughton, a former President of this College from 1984-1987.

Callum as he was known to everyone who knew him, was born in Glasgow on the 4 April 1925. He graduated MB ChB from the University of Glasgow in 1948 and his MD from the University of Glasgow in 1970.

His career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology began in the West of Scotland after he served as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1949-1950.

He was lecturer in the famous University Department of Sir Dugald Baird in Aberdeen from 1957-1961 where he began his life-long interest in perinatal outcome data and also in improving abortion care for women.

From Aberdeen he moved to Tayside, to an NHS Consultant post with honorary senior lecturer status at the University of St Andrews where he came under the influence of James Walker (Senior). He remained in Dundee from 1961-1970 working with other eminent Obstetricians such as Peter Howie and Naren Patel among others.

Callum then continued his journey around Scotland to take up his final post as the Muirhead Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Glasgow from 1970 until his retiral in 1990.

He was instrumental in developing the Perinatal Epidemiology Department with Gillian McIlwaine, and formed a strong Reproductive Medicine Department with Ian Coutts and Richard Fleming. His collaboration with Gill remained thruout his career and was the catalyst of the much sought after Scottish maternity Database still so useful to researchers today.

He also led a formidable Academic Department. He first appointed Peter Howie from Dundee as his senior lecturer and then when Peter moved to the Dundee chair he replaced him with Andrew Calder who had been in Alec Turnbull’s Department in Oxford. Thereafter Jimmy Walker joined as lecturer and then when Jimmy became senior lecturer I was fortunate enough to become the lecturer in Prof Macnaughton’s Department when I returned from my subspeciality training in Canada.

These were halycyon days in Glasgow with 2 contrasting styles in the chairs – Charlie Whitfield at the Queen Mothers Hospital and as he described his good friend Callum being at the ‘other end of Sauchiehall Street’. When MB ChB finals were real finals both Profs knew how to throw a party for the examiners with the lecturers on hand to pour drinks and help with the washing up!

Callum always had strong links with the RCOG, serving as Member and Chair of the Scottish Committee, and as Scottish Fellows Representative on Council from 1980 until 1984. During this period he chaired the working party on antenatal and intrapartum care, reporting in 1982.

He was elected President of this College in 1984 serving until 1987. He achieved the Presidency from a non officer position on Council something which I don’t think has been repeated and reflects his enormous popularity with his peers.

During his term, he had the vision and foresight to advise Council to purchase the President’s House at 8 Kent Terrace, which was carefully furnished by his wife Margaret-Ann. A great place to stay and a very handy source of income for RCOG some years later.

In 1986, he was the lead author on the RCOG response to a consultative document on ‘Hospital Medical Staffing : achieving a balance’ – very apt today in view of our Council discussions. He was knighted that same year somewhat unusually when he was still PRCOG.

From a personal perspective, I was fortunate enough to be Callum’s lecturer for 5 years following his term as President and I certainly owe him a great debt of gratitude for his counsel and encouragement during my early academic career.

He went on to be President of the British Fertility Society from 1992-1995.

In some way, he was also responsible for my marriage… in that, he once called me to say he had double-booked the house jobs at Rottenrow, and would it be ok if I did a 6 month job at Law Hospital in Lanarkshire instead? Although naturally disappointed, I said yes and that is where I met my wife, Phil.

To everyone who worked with Callum, he was an absolute gentleman and I know that many of the College staff still remember him with great fondness.

Callum married Margaret-Ann in 1955 and they had 5 children including a set of twins. He died peacefully at Mugdock House in Bearsden Glasgow on 1 July 2016.

His funeral and service of Thanksgiving is ongoing as I speak, and so I, and others in this room who would wish to pay their respects, sadly, cannot be there in person today.