Imperial News

Air Vice-Marshal Frederick C. Hurrell (St Mary's Hospital Medical School 1952)

Provided by Ms Caroline Walker

Air Vice-Marshal Frederick Charles Hurrell (Medicine, St Mary's
Hospital, 1952) Freddie Hurrell CB, OBE, MBBS, MRCS, LRCP, FRAeS,
FFOM, DAvMed died at home in Farnham, Surrey, on 3 October 2008 from
cancer, aged 80.

Former Director General Royal Air Force Medical Services, Air
Vice-Marshal "Freddie" Hurrell devoted his 35-year RAF career to
aviation medicine.
   Freddie, the son of an English Army officer and a Spanish mother,
was born in Guernsey in 1928. From the age of eight, having lost his
father in 1933, he was educated at the Royal Masonic School, Bushey,
where he excelled at hockey, rugby, cricket, water polo and
athletics, playing rugby for England Schoolboys against Scotland and
   He began his training at St Mary's Hospital Medical School,
Paddington, in October 1946, as one of only six schoolboys among more
than 50 demobbed ex-servicemen, having been selected by the then
Dean, Lord Moran. While at Mary's he boxed for United Hospitals as a
middleweight, and continued to play rugby for St Mary's, then a
leading side in the country, as well as being closely involved in the
Drama Society. He qualified in 1952, and worked in both medical and
surgical house positions at Paddington Green Children's Hospital with
the intention of becoming a paediatrician.
   When he was called up for his deferred National Service in 1953, he
joined the RAF on a four-year short service commission, and
subsequently served until 1988.
   For 13 years Freddie served as Senior Medical Officer on a variety
of operational flying stations in England, Australia and Singapore
practising a mix of General Practice, Public Health, Occupational,
Aviation and preventive medicine to service personnel and their
dependants. His contact with aircrew engendered a deep interest in
aviation medicine, and he learned to fly and accompanied aircrew
whenever possible in order to better understand the physiological and
psychological stresses to which they were subject.
   From 1967 to 1988 he held primarily administrative posts covering
diverse aspects of medical practice, policy and research within the
Royal Air Force. He was a medical advisor to the Inspector of Air
Transport and co-ordinated the RAF's worldwide aero-medical
evacuation service.
   In 1970 Freddie was awarded the Chadwick Gold Medal and Prize for
services to promoting health in the Armed Forces and was also
honoured with an OBE. In 1972 he gained the Diploma in Aviation
   In 1974 he became the Deputy Director Aviation Medicine,
responsible for monitoring the effects of training and operational
flying on emotional and physical health. He worked closely with the
RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine in areas of research and evaluated
their advice to the air staff on the maintenance of a medically
acceptable working environment for flying personnel. He also advised
the Inspector of Flight Safety on the medical aspects of flying
accident prevention and investigation, and acted as UK Co-ordinator
for International and NATO aeromedical bodies.
   From 1978 Freddie served for two years as Staff Officer Aerospace
Medicine on the Defence Staff of the British Embassy in Washington DC
where he was responsible for maintaining a close liaison with US and
Canadian service and civilian aviation authorities on medical aspects
of aviation.
   From 1980 to 1982 he was Officer Commanding Princess Alexandra
Hospital, RAF Wroughton. This included the time of the Falklands War,
when the hospital was the primary destination for returning
casualties. There followed posts as Director of Health and Research
and Principal Medical Officer, RAF Strike Command. In 1984 he was
appointed Honorary Physician to The Queen, and in 1986 he became a CB
and a Commander of the Order of St John of Jerusalem,  as well as a
Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.
   In 1986 Freddie became Director General RAF Medical Services in
charge of an organisation employing 3,500 medical officers and
medical ancillary personnel, responsible to the Air Force Board for
the provision and administration of medical, dental and nursing care
to more than 200,000 people, at home and abroad.
   After his retirement from the RAF in 1988 Freddie spent seven years
as Appeals Director for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, trebling
the value of the Fund during his tenure.
   He was closely involved for the rest of his life with The Royal
International Air Tattoo as a Vice President, and gave a tremendous
amount of support to the Disabled Flying Scholarship scheme, using
his expertise in the medical implications of flying as a forceful
lobbying platform.
   During his career Freddie had added squash and sailing to his
sporting accomplishments, winning the annual Round The Island Race
during his posting in Singapore. After retirement he took up and
enjoyed golf, playing until shortly before his death.  He had also
been a keen photographer all his life.
   Freddie was gregarious and energetic, and for several years, until
his final illness was diagnosed, he organised popular and
well-attended reunions for St Mary's alumni. He was a man of great
warmth and humour and tremendous integrity, liked and respected by
all who knew him. He was devoted to his family and loved to spend his
spare time at home in Surrey, maintaining the family house, tending
the garden and spending time with his family.
   In 1950 Freddie had married Jay Jarvis, a nurse at St Mary's. He
leaves Jay, their five daughters, grandchildren and