Tributes to pioneer children’s doctor

Gordon Welch with a child in 1987
Gordon Welch with a child in 1987

THE first ever children’s doctor to work in Hartlepool has sadly died.

The family of Dr Gordon Welch paid tribute to the town’s first paediatrician, who passed away aged 88 of pneumonia in the University Hospital of Hartlepool where he once worked.

His daughter, Jill Welch, 57, spoke fondly of her beloved father and described him as “a lovely man who loved Hartlepool, loved the children of Hartlepool, and cherished his job”.

Dr Welch, who leaves behind his Irish-born wife Margaret Welch, 86, a retired psychiatrist, came to Hartlepool as a young doctor in 1958 as a consultant paediatrician and worked at the old General Hospital and then the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The father-of-three, originally from Islington, North London, had previously worked at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, and before that trained at St Thomas’ Hospital, also in the capital.

He intended staying in Hartlepool for just a few years but loved the town and his job so much that he decided to stay and spent his career here.

Dr Welch, who cared for thousands of youngsters from birth through to adulthood, saw many changes in the NHS and was the town’s sole paediatrician for a lot of years before more children’s doctors were recruited over 15 years later.

He finally retired in 1987 after completing 40 years in the NHS and spent his time walking, listening to music, reading and spending time with his family.

Jill, a solicitor, said: “He was only going to stay in Hartlepool for a couple of years, but he never left because he loved it.

“There were no other paediatricians at all when he came and after originally being part-time, he was made full time because he did such a good job and it was realised that a paediatrician was really necessary.

“He was really committed to his job and he worked tirelessly with minimal holidays and often being on duty at night.

“He was often at births, he held various clinics and dealt with childhood illnesses and conditions.”

She added: “He was a good man and he made a difference helping thousands and thousands of people over the years, and we’re all extremely proud that he was our father.”

As well as Jill and Margaret, Dr Welch, who died last Friday, also leaves behind sons James Welch, 52, and Simon Welch, 47, and granddaughter Tia Estelle Jobbins, aged 14.

He is to have a private funeral and a celebration of his life will be held at The Grand Hotel, in Swainson Street, on Saturday, February 9, at 11am.