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Tarporley GP Dr Sandy Campbell dies at the age of 81

Renowned and well respected medical man led fight to keep Tarporley War Memorial Hospital open

Dr Sandy Campbell, aged 81, passed away peacefully at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Wednesday, January 27

One of the most well respected and best known GPs in Chester, Dr Sandy Campbell, has died at the age of 81.

Dr Campbell passed away peacefully at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Wednesday, January 27.

He was a general practitioner in Tarporley during a career which lasted 37 years.

He was born in Chester and attended Mostyn House School in Parkgate (1942-1947). He subsequently attended Stowe School (1947-1952) then St John’s College Cambridge and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London where he subsequently met theatre sister Helen Jolly.

They were married in the church of St Bartholomew the Great in 1963.

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When the opportunity arose to join the practice of his father, who had been a GP and surgeon in Tarporley, Tarvin and Waverton since 1931, Dr Campbell moved back to Cheshire and Helen joined him, moving into a cottage in Beeston.

As an anaesthetist, he assisted his father’s operations at Tarporley War Memorial Hospital and became honorary medical officer in 1962.

The practice expanded as the small rural villages rapidly grew in size and it moved into a new health centre at Tarporley in 1974.

Since the establishment of the NHS Tarporley War Memorial Hospital, in common with most cottage hospitals in England, it had been under threat of closure as larger hospitals became more in vogue.

Dr Campbell took over from his father in fighting to keep it open. A League of Friends was established and a campaign group, supported by Alastair (now Lord) Goodlad who was then MP for Eddisbury, won over the local health authority under the chairmanship of Sir Donald Wilson.

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It was a long and challenging campaign but Tarporley Hospital remained open, independent of the NHS in its management, while treating NHS patients and supported by an NHS grant.

Dr Campbell developed many interests beyond natural sciences. He became a particular expert in Anglo Saxon coins and, with the encouragement of Canon Maurice Ridgway, an authority on Chester silver.

He had a particular love of church architecture and all aspects of archaeology. He discovered a number of mediaeval kilns in the 1980s and the site is still being studied to this day.

House restoration

While living at Beeston he discovered that the Chantry Priests’ House (1527) in Bunbury was falling into ruin so bought it and saved it from further deterioration.

When he moved to Hargrave in 1974 the farmhouse he had acquired with his father needed complete restoration. With help, he and Helen painstakingly dismantled, preserved and re-erected the mediaeval timber frame, blending the old with the new.

He joined the Chester magistrates in 1978 and continued until 2004. He became deputy chairman of the bench and chairman of the juvenile bench and licensing committees.

In support of the Army he established, with his GP colleagues, a daily clinic at Saighton Camp to assist the army medical officer. He subsequently worked at the Dale Camp and with the Army Cadets until very recently.

In 1994 Dr Campbell reduced his NHS commitments when his son Andrew came down from Edinburgh to join the practice. He continued doing medical tribunal work and lecturing on health in retirement.

He gave talks on Chester silver, antiques and mediaeval pottery and donated his fee to charity.

Medical equipment

He lent his collection of old medical equipment to the University of Chester Riverside Campus, which now displays it in their medical museum and where a commemorative painting of him hangs on the wall.

He travelled across Britain, Eastern Europe, The Middle East and North Africa on archaeological tours with a local group of fellow enthusiasts and as a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute.

He joined the committee of the Mercia branch of the National Trust and subsequently became deputy chairman of the North West Region during which time he was involved in securing John Lennon’s family home for the trust.

He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2007.

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Dr Campbell was a past chairman of the Grosvenor Club, member of The Cheshire Pitt Club, chairman of the parish council, governor of Huxley School, member of

Hargrave and Huxley History Group, Four Parishes Research Group and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of the Makers of Playing Cards.

He had a great love of nature and the great outdoors, enjoying various country pursuits.

He was never happier than when roaming the hills and glens of Perthshire.

He is survived by his loving wife Helen, children Alison, Andrew and Sally and grandchildren, Alexander, Angus, William, Hugo, Sam, Olivia, and Isabel.

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