Specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology and rugby player who won five caps for Scotland

Born: February 19, 1928;

Died: May 9, 2019

DR William Pollok Black, who has died aged 91, was a well-known specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology and a former president of the Glasgow Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society. He was also an accomplished rugby player who gained five caps for Scotland.

He joined Miss Wylie’s Class F at The High School of Glasgow in 1936 and achieved three Mowat Scholarships and his rugby colours before leaving school in 1945. He wore his formal pupil’s tie with pride.

He studied medicine at Glasgow University, qualifying in MB Ch.B. in 1950. After resident posts at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and two years national service in the RAMC, he specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology, becoming senior resident at the Royal and thereafter resident registrar in his chosen subjects.

His rugby playing days continued until 1955 embracing membership of the FP 1st XV during Angus Cameron’s famous captaincy and sharing second row in the scrum with Bob Gemmill. Willie, as he was known in rugby circles, played also for Glasgow, London Scottish, Hampshire, the British Army and the Barbarians and gained five caps for Scotland.

In 1958 he was appointed a lecturer in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Leeds University and was, for one year, a research fellow in his speciality at Harvard College and the Boston Lying-in Hospital, USA.

He returned to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Eastern District Hospital in Duke Street before transferring his obstetric sessions to the Royal Maternity Hospital in 1977.

Along the way he achieved his MD with commendations and fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and of Glasgow and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

He developed a special interest in reproductive endocrinology and infertility and, working in close association with his colleagues in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, this culminated in 1985 in the recognition by the Voluntary Licensing Authority of the In Vitro Fertilisation Centre under his direction at the Royal.

He declared that specialist medicine was now, more than ever, a science-based art where success was best achieved by dedicated practitioners in various disciplines working together as a team and this was the spirit which permeated the colleagues with whom he worked at the Glasgow Royal.

His presidency of the Glasgow Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, during its centenary year in 1985, overlapped with Sir Malcolm Macnaughton’s presidency of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Dr Helen McEwan’s presidency of the Royal Medical Chirurgical Society of Glasgow, a unique coincidence for one department.

He was an elder of Orchardhill Parish Church until he moved out of the area. His faith was very important to him throughout his life.

He was a life member of Cathkin Braes Golf Club (and a member for 74 years) and The Royal Dornoch Golf Club as well as a member of Pollok Golf Club. His passion was for The Royal Dornoch Golf Club and he spent many wonderful holidays with his family in Dornoch. This was his favourite part of Scotland. He said that you needed to keep your eye on the ball, if not on the man with the ball.

A memorial service will be held at 3pm on July 5 at Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church.