Honouring Dr Thomas Tibbott Davies FRCS

Posted by Dr David Davies | 27 September 2012 5:15 PM

I'm keen to see what people have already entered on this so will check first then write something in memory of my dad.

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Posted by Dr David Davies | 2 October 2012 10:29 AM

My father, Dr Thomas Tibbott Davies, passed away peacefully at his home in Aberdyfi on 9th July 2007 aged 92.

"Dr Tom" served his community in the Aberdyfi and Tywyn area as a GP for more than thirty years, having first joined Dr Wright’s practice in Aberdyfi in the early 1950s.

He was a local boy, born in Tywyn to a rural Bryncrug family, and he spent his formative years in Bryngolau in Tywyn or at his mother’s family farm in Carno. His surgical interests developed early and he was encouraged by the headmaster of Tywyn Grammar School to seek a career in medicine. He was accepted at Guys Hospital in London at the young age of 17 (one of an impressive list of local Alumni from that time) and when the Second World War broke out during his surgical training he was enrolled as 2nd Lieutenant Surgeon on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. The ship saw much action in the Mediterranean and was instrumental in the rout of the Italian fleet at Taranto early in the war (“Operation Judgement”, which greatly helped the war effort on the Western Front and the desert campaign in North Africa). Illustrious became an avowed target of the Luftwaffe and his surgical skill was much in demand, particularly after severe strafing which caused 128 casualties and as many severe injuries among the crew. In an extraordinary twist, in addition to saving many lives he was also called on to man the guns at one point, downing an enemy Stuka. For these actions he was mentioned in Despatches. He went on to lecture in the USA on surgical techniques gained and developed during his experiences when the ship visited the North-Eastern Seaboard in 1941.

Later when on shore leave in the UK he fell in love with Jean, a WRN officer, who became his wife for 59 years, predeceasing him in 2001. They raised 6 children together and for most of this time lived in Aberdyfi following an initial 5 year stint in Cornwall and Devon.

When taking up his appointment in the area, Dr Tom undertook the provision of an emergency and routine surgical service to the locality from a small operating theatre in Tywyn Cottage Hospital, in addition to the busy requirements of rural general practice. It is perhaps salutary to remember that at that time the nearest district hospital was Chester, more than 80 miles away. In addition many of the community did not have transport and the home visits book was always busy. At times his surgical prowess (with anaesthetic assistance from his GP colleague Dr Marshall Lloyd) was even called upon in the outlying homes of members of the farming community. But he was a man of great vision, enthusiasm and energy, and despite his busy working life he did also find time for many interests and abiding passions. In his spare time he was often to be found duck-flighting, rough-shooting or flyfishing – the former, on occasion, before morning surgery!

My father was never afraid to enter the political fray in support of his beliefs. Possibly one of his greatest achievements, and a political coup, occurred in the 1970s when his beloved Tywyn Hospital was threatened with closure as a result of one of the sporadic initiatives to centralise rural services and reinvent the wheel, it seems regardless of local need and opinion. Along with other similarly dedicated local representatives, he managed to not only turn the tide of controlling NHS local politicking, but also led a campaign to raise money for the opening of a new Geriatric wing at Tywyn Hospital, realising with prescience how much this would be needed in the future. When matched official funding was offered he refused, preferring the controlling interest to remain with the community. The opening ceremony in 1973 was presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh.

My father was much loved and trusted, perhaps most of all by the local farming community in which he had his roots. The last word should go to his lifelong friend and fellow luminary, Sir Meuric Rees OBE, who gave the address at his packed funeral service: “I know I am among many who will sadly miss him. Dr Tom served his country generously in time of need; he contributed greatly to the community he lived in; he made sincere friendships; and most of all he was a dedicated husband, father and family man”.

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Dr Thomas Tibbott Davies FRCS