Dr David Skeggs: Radiologist who pioneered the combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy

David Skeggs was a radiologist of international renown.

Many of his former patients around the world today owe their lives to his skill and devotion. It is ironic that he should have succumbed in the end to the disease, cancer, that he fought against for so long in others.

Skeggs was born in 1928, the son of a doctor in Stevenage and the youngest of five children. He was educated at Winchester, and it was was probably the most formative period of his life. He was there during the war years, when conditions were at their bleakest and the school appeared to us boys to be in the hands of a bunch of elderly eccentrics, all the younger masters having left to fight. Skeggs revelled in all this. Later in life, when in the presence of fellow Wykehamists, Skeggs would delight us with impersonations of his housemaster, the Bobber, and other dons. He and several of his contemporaries at Hoppers, his house, all of whom went on to become extremely distinguished, would meet every year for dinner in each other's homes, a ritual continued to this day.

Skeggs read medicine at Oriel College, Oxford then went to St Bartholomew's Hospital, qualifying as a doctor in 1952. He left Barts in 1954 to do his National Service, spending two years as a surgeon in the Royal Navy, mostly at sea in the Persian Gulf.

In 1956 he returned to Barts, where he decided to specialise in radiology, eventually becoming Senior Registrar. He left in 1964 to become Director of the Radiology Centre at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, where he carried out his important pioneering work during the next 25 years. At the head of a team of colleagues he developed the world's first fully computerised cancer treatment machine.

This technique, known as "conformational therapy", focussed the beam of radiation on the tumour moreaccurately, with less damage tothe surrounding tissue. He alsopioneered the combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer.

His last post before retirement was as Director of Radiotherapy at the Cromwell Hospital until he was 75. As a recognition of his achievements in the fight against cancer an annual David Skeggs Lecture was established in 2003 at the Royal College of Radiologists

While he was still working he was a member of the Board of Visitors of Ford Open Prison, on the Council of Wycombe Abbey School and a Governor of the English Speaking Union, and in retirement he became Chairman of the UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust. He was totally committed to his work and widely respected for his integrity, professionalism and devotion to his patients' care.

He had many outside interests which retirement gave him the time toenjoy to the full. He played an excellent game of tennis to the end, loved bridge, music, chess, foreign travel, wine and to mention just a few ofhis interests. He also loved a flutteron the Stock Exchange, even though he never had much money to playwith. One of his more unusual hobbies was driving steam engines andhe visited Poland twice to drive trains there.

Another was the council allotment in Barnes that he tended for half a century and that kept his kitchen supplied with the most succulent vegetables. Cooking was one of the great passions of his life, and anyone who hasn't eaten his leek quiche hasn't lived.

David Skeggs was a handsome, cheerful, outgoing man who always appeared 20 years younger than he was. At his happiest when enjoying himself with his family or entertaining his many friends, he never talked about his work unless asked. Nevertheless he was enormously helpful to anyone who needed medical advice of any kind.

David Bartholomew Lyndon Skeggs, radiologist: born Stevenage 26 August 1928; married 1957 Anne Hughes (two daughters); died 22 December 2010.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments