Mary Holt was born at Eltham, Kent. She was an only child. Her father was a schoolmaster and her family originated from Manchester. She trained in medicine at King’s College Hospital, London, and following house posts at the thoracic unit, Horton Emergency Hospital and King’s, she joined the cardiac department at King s as a clinical assistant.
In 1948 the College awarded her the Charles Murchison scholarship and in the following year she obtained her membership. In 1950 she gained her doctorate and following a period of four years at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, where she was senior medical registrar, she was appointed at the age of 31 as consultant cardiologist to the South London Hospital for Women and Children. It is said that because she was younger than the normal appointment age of 32 she was not allowed at first to take the salary of a consultant although permitted to take the responsibility. She also returned to the cardiology department at King’s as a research scholar and, in collaboration with Sam Oram (q.v.), wrote papers on cardiological subjects which included the association between congenital deformity of the upper limb, atrial septal defect and cardiac dysrhythmias, which has become known as the Holt Oram syndrome. In 1959 she was also appointed to the Royal Eye and Croydon Hospitals.
She was chairman of the medical committees at both the South London and Mayday Hospitals and was later consultant member of the Croydon Health Authority. In about 1970 she was appointed honorary consultant cardiologist to Brompton Hospital and, in conjunction with Bill Cleland and Matt Paneth, she established a link between the Brompton and Croydon which lasted 20 years.
Mary Holt was early in appreciating the importance of cardiac rehabilitation and established a clinic specifically for this purpose. She was a meticulous physician who at times could appear rather formidable but who was in reality extremely kind and considerate.
She had many talents and interests outside medicine and she sang for many years with the Croydon Philharmonic Society. She was a keen gardener and knowledgeable about plants. She also loved to travel and was not discouraged from this when in later years she developed severe arthritis. She never married.
After retirement in 1990 she decided to move to Charmouth in Dorset, having had a holiday cottage in Lyme Regis for many years. In the summer of 1993 she underwent surgery to replace both knee joints and recovery from this was slow and difficult. By the autumn she was making good progress but, sadly, in October 1993 she took her own life.
J S Manners