John Beavis, retired trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, died aged 78 on 5 December, 2018. He came from a modest background but the post-War Labour government gave him the opportunity of a good education which he used well, qualifying in Medicine in 1967 from University College Medical School in London.
He spent the next five years as a medical officer with the Royal Marines, after which he specialised in orthopaedics. His first appointment as consultant was to Lewisham Hospital and he was then transferred to Medway in Kent where he had a busy practice. However at age 53 he developed angina. A coronary artery bypass graft operation was performed but some weeks after returning to work he had a bad attack of chest pain, as a result of which he was retired early from the NHS.
However, still being of an energetic nature and with a desire to serve his fellow man he made many trips to war-torn Bosnia where he trained surgeons in Sarajevo how to deal with complex trauma. On one of his return flights to the UK he met businessman Simon Oliver, who was so impressed with what John was doing that he provided funds to establish the charity IDEALS (International Disaster and Emergency Aid with Long-term Support), with John as Chairman.
This formed the basis for John’s subsequent humanitarian and medical projects, which he pursued with great effect for the next 20 years. After working with the Leonard Cheshire Centre for Conflict Recovery, his next major commitment was in NW Pakistan where he introduced courses in Primary Trauma Care, taught first by volunteers from the UK and subsequently by local instructors. He then organised immediate help for victims of the earthquake which struck Pakistan in 2005 and later that year for a village community in southern Sri Lanka affected by the tsunami.
During the last ten years his main interest was in Gaza. There friends were soon made and in partnership with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) many medical projects have been undertaken. Perhaps the most important has been the Complex Limb Reconstruction Service at Shifa Hospital where two trustees of IDEALS, Graeme Groom and Sarah Phillips, have provided invaluable help and leadership.
John was blessed with a long, happy and mutually supportive marriage to Kate Frankland with whom he had three children. His amazing capacity for engaging with people irrespective of age, race, sex or status resulted in developing friends wherever he worked and by whom he will be sorely missed. It was a great privilege to have known and enjoyed the company of this remarkable man.
Sir Terence English KBE FRCS
Trustee IDEALS and Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons