Obituary: Dame Beulah Bewley

Dame Beulah Bewley – 2 September 1929 to 20 January 2018

It is with much sadness that we announce the loss of Dame Beulah Bewley, the first woman to graduate with an MSc in Social Medicine from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1969. Beulah was a former Senior Lecturer at the School, President of the Medical Women’s Federation, Treasurer at the General Medical Council, and a leader of research into the effects of smoking in children and young people.

For many years, Beulah ran the Master’s degree in Public Health. Students always appreciated the kind pastoral care and interest she provided, in addition to academic support. Colleagues always knew they could turn to her for wise counsel if any students were encountering problems. Beulah retired at 64. She was made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours List for 2000, for her services to women doctors.

Her memoir “My Life as a Woman and a Doctor” is a fascinating view of a career in medicine and public health when it was very much a man’s world. Beulah takes you on a journey through her life from making the decision she would be a doctor at age 5, to retiring in 1994. She delivers a range of stories of career and family in a funny, straight talking manner.

In the extract below, Beulah talks about advice she received from Jerry Morris, and imparts some of her own advice.

“Wednesdays were our highlight, because Jerry invited visitors to discuss important topics. We had to do our homework ready to present first thing in the morning and then he had all these important people for our lectures in the afternoon. Jerry knew everybody, and everybody knew Jerry; they were all his friends. We had Baroness Wooton, Peter Townsend, and Brian Abel-Smith: you name them, they were all there. Jerry was important as a role model in many ways. One particular thing he advised: “Always read the leading article of a quality newspaper.” So I read The Times every day as a result. I always read the letters beside the leader, because it is essential to keep up-to-date if you are going to be any good as a community physician or are in public health medicine.”

All condolences are with Beulah’s husband Thomas and her four surviving children: three daughters and a son, predeceased by one daughter.

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