You are currently using an unsupported browser which could affect the appearance and functionality of this website. Please consider upgrading to the latest version or using alternatives such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

Obituary: James Mowat

Consultant obstetrician at the Royal Maternity Hospital Rotten Row, Glasgow, and Rutherglen maternity hospital, and gynaecologist at the Victoria infirmary Glasgow.

b 1937; q Edinburgh 1961; FRCOG; FRCS (Edin): FRCPS (Glasg)

d 27.4.2020, from complications of Parkinson’s disease

Born in the fishing village of Keiss near Wick on the far north-east coast of Scotland, Jim Mowat never lost his great love of his homeland.

He was the elder son of James Mowat (Senior), and Ida Baikie, who was born in the ‘last house’ in John O’Groats. His father was a fisherman, but was confined to work on shore after a severe heart attack in his 40s.

Young Jim, known as ‘Peedie Jim’, to differentiate him from his cousin, ‘Big Jim’, also Jim Mowat, went to Keiss School, and then Wick High School. He was recognised as bright lad at school and his headmaster suggested he go into banking but Jim was keen to go away to university and the local GP who was looking after his father convinced him that medicine would be a suitable career. Subsequently, Jim got to know Dr Leask well, as he regularly came to the house to attend to his father, he was a big influence in Jim’s decision to do medicine.

He left school after fifth year, to study medicine in Edinburgh. Life as a student for Jim was hard as his family were of limited means and he recounted that for the first 2 years all he had to wear was his kilt and if going home he often had to hitch a lift. After graduating, he trained briefly in anaesthesia, and then obstetrics, during which time, (across an operating table, both wearing masks), he met his wife, Colleen, a staff nurse. They married in 1965, and moved to Glasgow, where Jim became registrar in obstetrics at Rotten Row Maternity Hospital. During these years, two of his senior colleagues became Jim’s role models and mentors and played a major part in his subsequent career. One was Sir Hector McLennan, one of the most distinguished Scottish obstetrician of his time, and the only Scot to become President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The other was Dr Matthew Garrey with whom Jim had a long standing friendship right up until Dr Garrey’s death.

In 1967, Jim became Senior Registrar and when Sir Hector McLennan retired from his post at the Victoria Infirmary in 1971 Jim was appointed to the vacancy, and remained there until his retirement in 1997. He discharged his Obstetric commitment at Rotten Row, until the opening of Rutherglen Maternity Hospital in 1978. He was one of a strong team of medical, nursing, and supporting staff who provided an exemplary service to the large catchment area of that new hospital.

During all these years Jim was a caring, conscientious, and dedicated doctor, totally devoted to his patients, all of whom adored him. He was universally popular, great company, always fun to be with, and a wonderful colleague, much sought after by his medical colleagues to provide obstetric care to their wives and daughters, the highest possible compliment paid to any doctor.

Jim loved his work, and felt fortunate that his career had spanned the very best of times, but at 60, he was happy to close that door, and embrace his hobbies with new enthusiasm. Retirement gave him the opportunity to pursue his many interests, of which sailing in the West coast of Scotland was by far the most satisfying.

Jim had joined the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) whilst in his 20’s and there he learned to sail and made friendships with colleagues who had sailing boats further developing his interest in the pastime. At the Clyde based RNR establishment HMS Dalriada he progressed through the ranks and retired as Principal Medical Officer with the rank of Surgeon Commander. With his appetite whetted for small boat sailing he joined forces with a GP colleague and together they sailed “Sylph’ ‘Off Call’ and ‘Stravaiger’ before starting on boat ownership on his own. The craft were based in Troon initially before moving to bases progressively further North at Inverkip, Tarbert and latterly Craobh. In his own boats firstly ‘Echo’, which had been the name of his father’s boat, then ‘Encore” and with Colleen commandeered as cook his dream was fulfilled, exploring the inner and outer Hebrides, a sailor’s delight, occasionally venturing further afield with his two regular shipmates and other colleagues to destinations as far afield as St Kilda, France, the Faroes and Norway. He revelled in exploring remote inlets and anchoring in deserted coves sharing a glass or two of good malt whisky with his 2 long term sailing buddies. Jim was in his element living life to the full.

His love of Scotland and his Northern roots propelled Jim to learn Gaelic. When meeting anyone with even a smattering of the language he would greet them with wild enthusiasm keen to practice his vocabulary.

The day he died, as was his wish a hearse took him from Glasgow North by the road he loved to the village home he loved. He was buried with a graveside service in Keiss cemetery, within sight and the sound of the sea, next to his brother Jackie who had died 7 weeks earlier. It was a bright and breezy morning... Jim would have said “A Fair Wind”.

His Glasgow family and his Caithness cousins are so relieved that his fervent wish to be buried in his home village of Keiss became possible.

He is survived by his much loved wife Colleen, his adored children James and Elaine, and his cherished grandchildren, Finn and Rosa.