Born: July 2, 1916; Died: November 14, 2012.
Percy Walker, who has died aged 96, was a well known and much loved GP in Ayr. He had a prodigious memory and right to the end of his long life in his adopted town he would invariably make a connection in a casual encounter: "Let me see, your granny lived at number 23, and I delivered your three aunts..."
Loading article content
His whole life was devoted to other people and this showed in his understanding and interest in the whole man, not just the symptoms of illness. This holistic approach had appealing results – for instance he averred that stress was the worst enemy of man, and that alcohol was the best antidote to stress. His stress-free visits to his second home at Prestwick Golf Club paid testomy to this.
Dr Walker was born in Irvine and was schooled at Cambusdoon in Ayr, then Shrewsbury followed by his medical degree at Glasgow University. It was while at university that he encountered the horrors of deprivation and poverty in Glasgow which later gave him an unswerving belief in the National Health Service with its concept that medical care should not be predicated on ability to pay.
He qualified just before the outbreak of the Second World War and quickly signed up in the RNVR. His first ship was HMS Garth, fresh from John Brown's yard. He was meant to join it at Gourock, but thanks to an all-night nurses' party at the Royal Infirmary he missed the boat. A helpful Chief Petty Officer procured a pinnace which chased the Garth and caught her up off Largs.
As he climbed aboard rather than a reprimand the captain, Lt Commander Eric Hart Dyke merely said: "Welcome aboard Doc, jolly good of you to join us".
He had an uncanny ability to be in the midst of the action. In Combined Ops, he was on a tank landing craft on the Dieppe Raid, and was at the Operation Torch landings in North Africa.
He was then posted to HMS Braganza in Bombay where he met the love of his life, Surgeon Lieutenant Aileen Digby who subsequently became his wife of 66 years. Dr Walker had helped to nurse her back to health after a near fatal bout of typhoid.
He finished the war as Medical Officer of one of the squadrons on HMS Indomitable based in Trincomalee, Ceylon, which made several raids on the Andamans.
Returning to Scotland he became a partner in the Tam's Brig practice in Ayr where he practised until his retirement in 1981, but he spent several years on medical assessment boards after that. He developed the wisdom of age and treated his patients with compassion and humour, having many tales to tell of the worthies of his practice. As a listener he invariably got the best out of them.
Prestwick Golf Club was his second home, and it was one of his greatest pleasures to have been elected captain in 1977. He was also a keen member of the Senior Golfer's Society.
He was senior medical officer at Ayr Racecourse for more than 30 years, which also gave him great pleasure as he loved animals and the countryside, not to mention the thrust and intrigues of racing. He was also for many years a Deputy Lieutenant for Ayrshire and Arran.
At 96, he knew that the end could not be far away, but he had a deep religious faith and knew, as he used to say "that the Lord would take him in his own good time".
He will be sorely missed by Aileen, his wife of 66 years and his three surviving children (Amanda having died 25 years ago).