George Herbert Harry Benham was born in Prestwich, Manchester, the son of George Horwood Benham, a schoolmaster, and of Dorothy Elizabeth Blake whose father was a naval architect. He was married in 1941 to Ena May Kilner whose father was a company director; they had no children. On neither side of the family was there any previous connection with the medical profession.
He was a very able student at Manchester Medical School and at Manchester Royal Infirmary. He obtained a BSc (Anatomy and Physiology), and MB ChB (distinction in Physiology). He won the John Russell Entrance Medical Scholarship, Dauntesey Senior Medical Scholarship, Sidney Renshaw Junior Prize in Physiology and Dumville Surgical Prize.
He became house physician to Dr. A. Hilliard Holmes at Manchester Royal Infirmary. He later became house physician at Salford Royal Hospital and then became medical officer at the County Mental Hospital, Prestwich where he remained for several years. In the early war years he was Resident Medical Officer and Deputy Medical Superintendent at Withington Hospital, Manchester.
Afer serving in the RAMC as a Specialist Physician, he returned as Senior Registrar in the Department of Neurology, Manchester Royal Infirmary. He was appointed Consultant Physician, Ashton-under-Lyme General Hospital in 1950.
He served as a Member of Ashton, Hyde and Glossop Hospital Management Committee (1951-1957) and was also a Member of Committee of the Section of Medicine of Manchester Medical Society for three years.
He did not publish extensively but two articles he wrote, Pregnancy and co-arctation of the aorta and The visual fields in subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord were careful, well written, well researched pieces of work.
Benham was a man of strong religious convictions and was a member of the Board of Managers of the local Church of England Primary School and also a church warden at his local church. He frequently lectured to church and secular audiences on matters of medical and paramedical interest.
Benham was known for very meticulous, careful work. He brought the standards of the Neurology Unit at a teaching hospital to his work as a general physician in a busy peripheral hospital. His letters, long and well written, were a model of what such letters should be. Never interested in money, he gave up private practice after a year and although he never became a full time worker in the Health Service, he nevertheless gave the whole of his time to it. He did not suffer fools or tolerate shoddy work; nevertheless when one knew him and worked with him as a colleague, one appreciated his qualities of character and his extensive knowledge not only of medicine but also of other things. His interests lay in the direction of music, European culture and history but he was also fond of cricket, played lawn tennis and enjoyed walking on the hills. The old steam engines were always a source of great interest to him, and he and his wife travelled extensively with great pleasure until his illness began some years before his death. He bore his failing health with a quiet courage sustained by his firm religious beliefs.
[Brit.med.J., 1974, 2, 508; Lancet, 1974, 1, 1122]