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Obituary: John Geoffrey Dumoulin MBE

Given at the January 2008 meeting of the Council of the RCOG

John Geoffrey Dumoulin (Jack) was born in Ferriby near Hull in 1919.

After school at Malvern College, he studied medicine at St Thomas's Hospital and qualified in October 1942. There were two distinct phases to Jack's very distinguished career; firstly he was an outstanding army doctor and secondly he was a very distinguished consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist based in Plymouth.

His military service was highlighted by extreme bravery and commitment, a characteristic that saw him through his life.

In 1943, he joined as the Special Operations Executive (SOE) the predecessor to the SAS and was parachuted into German occupied Albanian as a medical officer for this group. He worked there in appalling conditions with a group of partisans led by the country's dictator, communist Enver Hoxha. It is recalled that he displayed characteristic of being an excellent doctor who remained utterly clam and in control in the most harrowing circumstances.

Following his service in Albania, Jack volunteered for further SOE service and was parachuted into Malaya. Following this he was awarded an MBE for his medical work with this organisation. Parachute drops by these forces were a major life threat.

In Albania a local nurse, Drita Kosturi, assisted him. For her contribution to this work she was sent to a labour camp where she remained for more than forty years. When Jack heard of her release in 1990, he immediately arranged for her to be flown to Plymouth for expensive medical rehabilitation.

Following his war service, he worked at Hammersmith Hospital and then at University College Hospital and was appointed as a consultant in Plymouth in 1953 where he practised until his retirement in 1984. He had a very distinguished career at Plymouth and was sought after by many for his advice on almost anything. He was extremely kind to his colleagues and nothing was too much trouble for him if they needed assistance or help with difficult operative procedures. He was Chairman of the Hospital Medical Staff and one of the key medical figures within Plymouth. His interest in education led him with others including Hugh Leather (Suzy's father) to raise enough money to build the first Plymouth Postgraduate Medical Centre in 1969. In 1971 I was a medical student attached to him, with a need for supplementary teaching due to a problem with a written examination.

Jack also had a vision for a medical school way in advance of the development of the Peninsula Medical School. His interest in the discipline extended to the Royal College. He became a Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1949 and a Fellow in 1960. He was elected to Council in 1974 for three years and in 1979 for a further three years. He sat on the Hospital Recognition and Examination, Central Congress and Finance and Executive Committees.

He stimulated the interest of John Friend in the RCOG and encouraged him to stand for Council. Jack acted as a beacon for the two of us and is probably largely responsible, indirectly, for me standing on my feet today. We are very grateful to Jack for this help in this way. Shortly after my first council meeting he felt it appropriate to inform me of the unwritten rule that you should keep quiet for your first council. I was embarrassed, as I had not obeyed the rules.

Academically, he wrote several seminal papers when working for Professor Nixon on the use of IV ergometrine.

He was married to Enid a nursing sister from St Thomas's. They had two daughters. Sadly, Enid pre-deceased him by two years.

Outside of medicine he had an interest in water skiing and magnolias. Enid and Jack lived in a beautiful house in Ivybridge for the whole of their professional lives. He was a quite thoughtful man with a twinkle in his eye but many of us, both colleagues and patients are deeply indebted to his influence in our lives and careers.

I attended his memorial service at Ivybridge Church, which was full with many grateful patients and colleagues.

Tony Falconer