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Honouring Dr Darrell Sheldon Wilkinson FRCP

Dr John Wilkinson

Posted by Dr John Wilkinson | 8 October 2013

Darrell was the only son of Edgar Sheldon Wilkinson, a surgeon commander in the Royal Navy, and Muriel (Mitzi), his talented but eccentric mother.He was educated at Epson College (where he studied classics) and then medicine at St Thomas'' hospital.

On qualifying, he joined the Royal Navy Reserve but he spent most of the war in Greece and the Aegean with the Special Operations Executive (SOE).

After the war, he became one of the first group of dermatology trainees under Dr Geofrey Downing and Dr Hugh Wallace at St Thomas''. It was here that he met Dr Arthur Rook and the two of them subsequently published the world''s first textbook of dermatology.\r\nDarrell was notoriously untidy and also, according to his friends, suffered "delusions of poverty". From his mother and his housemaster at Epsom, he acquired a lifelong love of music and of classical history and literature. From his time in Greece, and from attending clinical meetings in France, a love of all things Greek and French and a love of people and parties.

Dinner parties were a time when discussions could range from subjects such as the origin of the Celts through philosophy to the discovery of the linear B script. He was one of the last of that generation of men whose knowledge and interests were not restricted just to his job, even though this was always his first passion.

He trained a whole generation of Australian and UK dermatologists, described an eponymous disease, was President of the British Society of Dermatologists, Section President of the Royal Society of Medicine and was elected an Honory member of many foreign dematology societies as well a Fellow of the RSM.\r\n Perhaps his most lasting legacy (realised by Prof. Terence Ryan) was in persuading the International Leaque of Dermatology Societies to establish a training centre for dermatology in Africa. He was subsequently awarded the International Society''s first medal for services to dermatology; not bad for a single-handed, District General Hospital consultant!

Each year after the British Association of Dermatologists Annual Meeting he would invite not only his friends and colleagues but also any foreign guests to his home for a disorderly, garden party where there was always too much alcohol consumed and where he and Dr Ken Crow (another dermatologist from Swindon) set off homemade fireworks! So much for Health and Safety! On one occasion a busload of Bulgarians arrived somewhat unexpectedly.It simply added to the enjoyment. It was certainly a life well lived.

To share biographical information, an anecdote or a special message about Dr Darrell Sheldon Wilkinson FRCP, please email development@rsm.ac.uk.

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