Geoffrey Aldridge was born at Northfield in Worcestershire where his father, Arthur William Aldridge, was a general medical practitioner; his mother, Harriette Elisabeth, was the daughter of Herbert Ellis, a musician. He was educated at Uppingham, at King’s College, Cambridge, where he took an honours degree in Natural Sciences, and at Birmingham Medical School, qualifying B Chir (Cantab) in 1935. He then held a series of resident appointments at the General Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. In 1937 he was awarded a Caroline Harold Research Fellowship in the University of Birmingham and studied electrolyte and fluid disturbances in infants with acute gastroenteritis.
Having enlisted in the Territorial Army as a medical officer to the Warwickshire Yeomanry, he was drafted to Palestine with his regiment when war broke out in 1939. Later he was transferred to No.1 Malaria Field Laboratory. In 1941 he was captured during the German advance into Greece, and he was held in Germany as a prisoner of war until 1945.
Returning to Birmingham he was appointed to a registrar’s post at the Children’s Hospital and resumed his study of the biochemical changes affecting babies with acute gastroenteritis. The results of his research were incorporated in a thesis submitted for the degree of MD at Cambridge. In 1947 he was appointed first consultant paediatrician to the Mid and South Worcestershire hospitals. The creation of the post was at first resented by some of his senior consultant colleagues but it was not long before they had been converted by his quiet persistence, unfailing courtesy and zest for hard work.
The Bates Memorial Children’s Wards at Worcester Royal Infirmary are a lasting tribute to his planning ability. For many years he worked single-handed, meeting the needs of general practitioners, running paediatric units at hospitals in Worcester, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Stourport and Malvern, training house officers and acting as adviser to the public health services. The demands on his time and energy were so great that in 1961 he resigned from the Mid-Worcestershire Hospitals, but almost immediately found himself grappling with the task of organizing a premature baby unit alongside the obstetric department at Ronkswood Hospital.
Geoffrey Aldridge gave himself unstintingly to the welfare of the children in the Worcestershire area and in support of his medical colleagues. Paediatricians from the Region showed their appreciation of his qualities when they made him president of the Midland Paediatric Society. His charm and infectious sense of humour made him a delightful companion. An innate dignity was coupled with humility which left him genuinely mystified that anyone should think highly of him. He was an enthusiastic all round sportsman and for a long time the highlight of the year was a trip to the University Match at Twickenham. Ornithology was another of his interests; when the British Paediatric Association met at Scarborough, his friends derived great pleasure from sharing his excitement as he watched the sea birds on the cliffs near Flamborough Head.
The love of music which he inherited from his grandfather led to a particular interest in wind instruments. He played the saxophone when he was a medical student, and later became an accomplished bassoon player. He was a member of the Birmingham Medical orchestral group and he was an active supporter of the musical activities at Worcester Cathedral where he worshipped regularly.
In 1939 he married Priscilla Margaret (Jane) Peile, daughter of the Archdeacon of Worcester. They had two sons.
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
[Brit.med.J., 1974, 1, 646; Lancet, 1974, 3, 467]