Obituary: Dr Simon McMinn

Obituary  Dr. Simon McMinn, MB, BS, MRCOG, FRSM

Following a brief illness our admirable honorary editor, Simon, died on 23rd August 2012.  He was just 67.  Joining the Bristol Medico-Historical Society in 1992, he volunteered to edit our proceedings.  Since 1994 with the help of David Bryan-Wigfield of Capella Archive, he published six volumes containing 142 papers presented to the Society since 1986 (the first two in collaboration with the Society’s founder Michael Wilson).  A seventh volume was in preparation at the time of his death.  He also prepared a cumulative index of our activities to celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2011.  Simon himself contributed two memorable papers with the titles ‘Uncle Bill Wilson: a truly general practitioner’ and ‘Bibliomania and doctors’.

Simon Gregor Erskine McMinn was born on 5th June 1945 at Herne Bay in Kent, the youngest in a family of three.  After education at Hampton Grammar School and St. Edwards School, Oxford, he trained in medicine at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, qualifying in 1968.  Following house jobs and a short term commission in the RAF, Simon joined the Yorkleigh Surgery in Cheltenham.  There he served as a general practitioner for 36 years, eventually becoming senior partner, prior to taking semi-retirement.  He also filled the post of police surgeon for Gloucestershire, that of doctor for Gloucester Prison, and was co-founder and vice-chairman of Chelt-Doc Ltd., the GP out of hours service.

In 1992 Simon’s interest in addiction led him to become a trustee of Gloucestershire’s Alcohol Counselling and Information Service, later merged to become today’s Independence Trust.  His empathy with those having drug problems and his professional expertise and wise counsel was highly valued.  He became a member of the Medical Council on Alcohol, 

the Society for the Study of Addictions, and the New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group.  On another tack, he was the founder and chairman of trustees of Hope Clinic in Uganda, a charity providing primary health care for parishes in Kampala.

Soon after graduation, Simon married his first wife, Barbara, with whom he had three daughters.  Later he and Barbara parted company and in 1991 Simon married his second wife, Gill.  Together they created an immensely happy home for their two 


Simon and Gill McMinn

Those who knew Simon well described him as a strong character and an initiator who always strove for excellence.  He was also seen as a man of culture and taste, who loved poetry and music – he himself played the cello.  A bibliophile, he was a compulsive collector who built up a beautiful library in his home.  He also knew his wines and was fond of whiskey.  Enjoying sport, he played half-back for Cheltenham Hockey Club.  Always active and busy with many balls in the air at the same time, Simon’s humour was reflected  in his request that the poem ‘Y’know’, written by his friend, Roger Pope, be read at his memorial service at St. Stephen’s Church in Cheltenham.  The first verse reads as follows:

“I’m far too busy to die, y’know,

I’m far too busy to die.

There’s still so much I’m wanting to do,

So much I’m wanted to share with you.

I’m far too busy to die.”


Welcome to the

Bristol Medico Historical Society.

This organisation, set up in 1986 by Prof John Clamp and Mr Michael Wilson, is dedicated to the research and discussion of all aspects of medical history. The society has a particular interest with history related to Bristol and the West of England.

It is holding its meetings at the Create Centre

Hon Secretary: Dr Peter Carpenter

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