Professor Seymour Donald Mayneord Court

James Spence Medallist

Date of death: 09 September 1994

Year James Spence Medal awarded: 1978

Donald Court CBE studied at Birmingham University and began his career at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street and Westminster Hospital, London. He worked as a physician in the Emergency Medical Service during the war, and then under James Spence as Reader in Child Health. After Spence’s death, Professor Court became the first James Spence Professor of Child Health and anonymously edited the posthumous volume of Spence's publication ‘Purpose and Practice of Medicine’. He retired from the chair in 1972 and was elected Emeritus Professor of Child Health at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was President of the British Paediatric Association and simultaneously the chairman of the Child Health Services Committee, which reported its inquiry containing recommendations on future planning of child health services in two volumes called ‘Fit for the Future’.

Professor Court was awarded the Medal not only for his achievements in the fields of respiratory disease and the epidemiology of disease in childhood, but for being a compassionate leader who influenced others to debate major issues facing the BPA and the services they provide. He was described a brilliant chairman, who never lost sight of the ultimate aim, and his books, ‘Medical Care of Children’ and ‘Paediatrics in the 70s’, written with Tony Jackson, became necessary reading.