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Sylvia Gyde obituary

Sylvia Gyde obituary

My wife, Sylvia Gyde, who has died aged 88, was a medical researcher and NHS administrator. She worked for a number of years in public health, a role in which she consistently argued for the root social, economic and environmental causes of ill health to be better addressed.

After a stint as a GP, Sylvia began her research career looking into Crohn’s disease at Birmingham general hospital. In the late 1980s she served as medical director of the West Midlands mortality survey, a job that convinced her of the need for better public health medicine. It also led to her appointment as director of public health at North Birmingham health authority (1988-94).

Later she returned to the research field as medical director of clinical audit for the West Midlands (1994-96) and then medical director of the Evidence Supported Medicine Union (1996-97), looking at ways to improve patient care, until her retirement in the late 1990s.

Born in Llanidloes, mid-Wales, to Robert Clayton, a tannery manager, and Violet (nee Marshall), a chartered secretary, Sylvia grew up with her family in the village of Combs in Suffolk, where her early childhood was idyllic, until she went as a scholarship boarder to St Felix school in Southwold, where she was miserable and rebellious.

Nonetheless she secured a scholarship to study medicine at Somerville College, Oxford (1954-57). These were some of the happiest years of her life, singing in choirs and enjoying a wide circle of friends that included the playwright Alan Bennett.

Sylvia and I were married in 1961, after we had both completed our clinical
training at the London Hospital medical college. Four children followed
in six years; and yet during that time she still found the energy to
set up a family planning clinic on a council estate in Woolwich, south-east London.

After we moved to Birmingham in 1972 Sylvia had three years in general
practice before embarking on her six years of research into Crohn’s disease at Birmingham – work that generated an important series of papers on inflammatory bowel disease.

In retirement Sylvia sang in various choirs, looked after her roses at our bolthole in Besançon, eastern France, and became an accomplished ceramicist. She suffered the gradual decline of her memory and physical health with patience and dignity, remaining a loving wife, devoted mother and grandmother and, above all, very much herself until the end.

She is survived by me, our children, Emily, Humphrey, Helen and Edward, and four grandchildren.

Source: theguardian.com