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George Knox obituary | Doctors



My father, George Knox, who has died aged 89, was a much loved family doctor, an inspirational trainer of young GPs, and a committed Quaker.

Born in Tring, Hertfordshire, to Margaret (nee Willcox) and Henry Knox, both general practitioners, he attended Berkhamsted school and studied medicine at Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 1951, and then King’s College hospital, London. After qualifying, he did his national service as a medical officer at RAF Marham, Norfolk.

In 1957 he married Judith Vince. His first GP post was in Burnham Market. The job then consisted mostly of home visits. “I worked consecutive days and nights without a break,” he told the author Raymond Monbiot. “Village post office workers would hold up a red flag to let me know of emergencies as I drove between calls.”


George grew up as an Anglican, but one day he was called to treat pupils on a field trip to Burnham Overy windmill. George was impressed with these articulate students from Ackworth, a Quaker school in Yorkshire, and this encounter inspired him and Judith to discover Quakerism.

A man with a social conscience, in 1974 George made a dramatic move to a practice in Batley, the industrial heart of West Yorkshire, a community where many patients were deprived. George valued the diversity of the community and found his patients to be appreciative and respectful.

George supervised and mentored trainee GPs, becoming chairman of Yorkshire postgraduate GP education, through which hundreds of young GPs passed. He ran a psychiatric clinic each week at Staincliffe hospital, Dewsbury, so his patients had longer to talk to him about mental health problems. He stayed in Batley until he retired in 1991.

After that he moved to Norfolk, where he ploughed energy into saving the cottage hospital at Wells-next-the-Sea, becoming chairman of the Friends of Wells hospital. The hospital was eventually transformed into a charity, the Wells Community Hospital Trust, providing clinical and non-clinical services for communities in west and north Norfolk.


For 20 years George had attended Huddersfield Quaker meeting, and in 1993 he was appointed clerk of the meeting at Wells. From 1994 to 1999 he was nominated as trustee to oversee refurbishment of Quaker properties in Norfolk. He was a Quaker elder and served for three years as chairman of Wells Churches Together.

A sociable and ever-curious man, George kept abreast of medical developments, current affairs, history, literature and classical music, and loved playing the piano and organ.

He is survived by Judith, their five children, Robert, Catherine, William, Richard and me, 10 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and his sister, Sue, and brother, John.

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