HUNDREDS MOURN PASSING OF Dr. GREGORY
Sportsman And Family Doctor
By the tragic death of John Colin Gregory, of Orchard Lea, Hemel Hempstead has lost one of its best-known and most popular personalities. After playing tennis with his son and daughter, and Dan Maskell, the professional, in the covered courts he died suddenly in the dressing room. His death at the early age of 55, was a great shock to hundreds of his local patients, and to a large circle of friends, from many parts of the country, all of whom will join us in expressing sympathy with Mrs Gregory and her son and two daughters. Dr. Gregory’s fame as a tennis player of world-wide repute – already established when he came to Hemel Hempstead in 1934 – never deflected his interest and care from his patients and it can be said that throughout the whole of his career he never lost that most essential quality in the family doctor – the common touch.
Qualifying in 1928, DR. Gregory, a Beverley Yorkshire man by birth, came here to join the partnership of Drs Gilroy & Young, nearly the whole of his medical career being devoted to Hemel Hempstead. In 1936 on the retirement of Dr. Gilroy, he was appointed physician to the West Herts. Hospital, with charge of medical and maternity beds. He was medical Head of St. Paul’s Maternity Unit, his work for which has earned unlimited praise. Dr. J.G.A.Gilruth, his partner for many years writes: “In no time at all his positive and colourful personality made itself felt, and he had a devoted following among his many patients, who regarded him not only as their family doctor in the fine old sense of the words, but as a family counsellor and friend as well. “Colin Gregory’s two absorbing passions after his devotion to his family were his work and his tennis, to both of which he brought every last ounce of his boundless energy, and his quick and keen perception. Much will be said ad written of his lawn tennis, but it is of his “Brain-child”, the maternity wing of St. Paul’s Hospital that I write now. In 1946 when Great Ormond Street Hospital returned to London, “Greg” saw a future need for a maternity hospital to cope with the impending New Town project. He approached the Hertfordshire County Council on the subject and soon afterwards the St. Paul’s Maternity Unit was established.
Here “Greg” was in his element, and it is true to say that all the improvements and alterations have been the result of his initiative. Many hundreds of pounds were saved by his vigilance and planning, and by his steadfast attention to detail.
How sad that he did not live to see the installation of a patients lift, on which he had expanded so much energy to obtain.
Here “Greg” was in his element, and it is true to say that all the improvements and alterations have been the result of his initiative. Many hundreds of pounds were saved by his vigilance and planning, and by his steadfast attention to detail. “How sad that he did not live t see the installation of a patients lift, on which he had expanded so much energy to obtain. “The young mothers of Hemel Hempstead who have had their babies in St. Paul’s cannot realise the debt that is owed to Colin Gregory for his sagacity and foresight in bringing this unit into being, and for al that he put in to its running and improvement. “One is reminded of Sir Christopher Wren’s epitaph – “If you are seeking a monument, look about you.” Countless of Colin’s friends, admirers and patients at this time are sad at heart and are proud to have known him. He will be sorely missed.”
SON OF A CHAMPION
Dr. Gregory’s fame as a tennis player goes back to the 1920’s. His mother, a former Yorkshire Ladies Champion, largely stimulated his interest in the game. Dr. Gregory was a talented cricketer as a schoolboy – at the Rossall School Fleetwood, and at one time a keen rugby player, but he began to concentrate on tennis after winning the Yorkshire singles title when he was 20. He became a member of the Davis Cup team four years later.
Between 1926 and 1930 he won 20 out of 29 David Cup rubbers for Great Britain, and attained his playing peak in 1929. That year at the age of 26, he won the Australian Singles Title, and also reached the final of the doubles at Wimbledon with I G Collins. During 1928/29 he toured the world as a member of a British team and in 1929 he won the Scottish Championship.
STEPPED INTO BREACH
Non-playing Captain of the British Team from about 1949 until early 1953. Dr. Gregory made international news in 1952, when at 48, 22 years after playing what was intended as his last Davis Cup match, he stepped in to lead Britain to victory in the second round pf the Davis Cup in Jugoslavia. His performance in the game will be long remembered in the annals of British sport.
In the tie against Jugoslavia, in Belgrade, Geoffrey Parish was injured. He could not play because of a twisted ankle, and the Dr. came out of retirement to partner Tony Mottram, together winning the fifth set to give Great Britain the lead. The span of 27 years between his first and last Davis Cup match was unique.
Only a few years before in 1949 Dr. Gregory regained the Yorkshire Singles title, which he had held 18 years before. He had recently still played a fast game of doubles at weekend games at the All-England Club.
Dr. Gregory retired as non-playing captain of the British team in February 1953, owing to pressure of work, and was appointed Chairman of the All-England Club, the foremost in the world, in 1955. He had been vice-chairman for more than four years and a committee member since before the war.
Many tributes, both official and unofficial are being paid to Dr. Gregory.
We record the following:
Major Armand Blackley, Chairman of West Herts. Group Hospital Management Committee writes: “2Colin Gregory was known to the world as a great sportsman; to us in the hospital world as a great man a and kindly doctor. Here are throughout our county hundreds of men and women, especially women, who owe him a debt of gratitude for his wonderful skill and for his human approach and help. He understood, as few do, the real meaning of service t his fellow men and women. "We who were privileged to work with him in the hospital in the hospital world, lose not only a grand colleague and friend, but one whose first thought was for the sick and suffering. The world is the poorer by the passing of this fine man, an his friends sorrow with his family at their great loss.” DEVOTION
Mr. Hugh Aronsoe, Chairman of St. Paul’s Hospital House Committee, whose association with the hospital covers the whole period during which Dr. Gregory was connected with it writes: “Since the inception of the Maternity Unit and its rapid development both during and after the war, Dr. Gregory has been its devoted Medical Head, and it is largely owing to his drive and devotion that the Unit has reached its present high standard of efficiency. There are hundreds of mothers and youngsters in our district today who have passed through the hands of Dr. Gregory and his devoted and hard worked staff.
“Greg” has been an inspiration to us all in his robust and forthright approach to anything which could advance and improve the work of the Maternity Unit. I am sure the best memorial we can offer him is to ensure the fullest support to his successors in the continuation of his work at St. Paul’s. I personally shall greatly miss “Greg’s” cheerful presence and enthusiasm in the work of our hospital.
Tribute to Dr. Gregory’s ability to maintain his active interest in tennis while at the same time being a busy doctor, is paid by Col. A.D.C. Macaulay, secretary of the All-England Tennis Club.
“He was an excellent exponent of the English sportsman, and was capable of giving his attention to any game, yet work at the same time. There are not so many people nowadays who are able to give so much energy and enthusiasm to such diverse interests which made him exceptional.”
More recently, said Colonel Macaulay, Dr. Gregory proved himself an able administrator in tennis affairs as Chairman of the All-England Club, his business ability being an asset to the Club.
The recent Australian tour, made by Dr. Gregory at the request of the , proved to be of great value and goodwill.
The cremation at Mortlake on Wednesday was attended by the family, relations (among them his father DR. W.H. Gregory of Beverley) and close friends, and the service was conducted by the Rev. Charles Plummer, Vicar of Hemel Hempstead. Hundreds of floral tributes were received.
A memorial service is to be held later, the date of which is o be announced.
Friday 16th January 1959 - The following advert appeared in the Gazette:
New houses on the ORCHARD LEA ESTATE TILE KILN LANE. Only few left - through lounge, excellent kitchen (with refrigerator) 3 beds, bath, good garden, garage all services £2850.
By the year 2001 these same houses are selling at approximately one hundred times that figure and by 2015 they are worth in excess of £550,00! It would appear from that Dr. Gregory had some time previously sold much of the land associated with his property. [Gazette 16 January 1959, Gazette 21 February 2001]