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Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis

Miss Gwyneth Lewis, former senior technician in the Section of Pathology and Tumour Biology (Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine), died on 12th July 2011. By dint of the nature of her responsibilities, much of her work was carried out in conjunction with the Department of Histopathology and Molecular Pathology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Professor Phil Quirke writes:

"Gwyneth Lewis joined the University Department of Pathology in 1972 straight from school, working in the Cell Culture Unit in Clarendon Road as a junior laboratory technician.  On the death of Mrs Mary Firth, she took over the running of the unit at the age of twenty-one.  On the amalgamation of the disparate laboratories of Pathology into the Algernon Firth building, she began working in the histology laboratories. In these University and Hospital laboratories she continued to work for the whole of her professional career facilitating patient care, University research and teaching.

Gwyneth was dedicated to her work, always happy to be of assistance to anybody who needed it and especially in the surgical dissection laboratory.   In this laboratory Pathologists work closely one on one with biomedical scientists, sometimes spending hours examining tissues excised by the surgical teams.  During the 1980’s and 1990’s Gwyneth enthusiastically helped in the lengthy examinations of rectal cancer and subsequently colonic cancers that led to pathologists worldwide changing their dissection techniques.  This careful work led to the recognition of the importance of the surgical margin in determining pelvic recurrence of bowel cancer and to a number of optimized operations that are currently being introduced into practice in Leeds, Europe, USA and South America.  Gwyneth had immense patience with us as young pathologists and was always a pleasure to work with at the dissection bench.  She had a wide knowledge of laboratory techniques and was always up for a technical challenge.  Gwyneth was renowned for her commitment to the job and she was usually the last person to leave the lab at the end of the day. She always worked more than her contracted hours because she wanted to "finish things off" before she went home.  Gwyneth was totally reliable and always instantly recognisable within the Department because of her ‘Titian’ coloured hair.  Over the years she treated the succession of juniors of all staff groups that she trained with good humour and saw them spread over the UK both to University and NHS Departments of Pathology. A sizeable number of these are currently senior academics and NHS consultants within Leeds and elsewhere.

Gwyneth worked for the University for the whole of her professional life. Her first love was the NHS service department working at the joint University/NHS Department in the Algernon Firth Institute of Pathology at Leeds General Infirmary, then moving to the new laboratory at Morley and subsequently to the new NHS Bexley Wing at St James’s University Hospital.

Gwyneth taught laboratory skills to many trainee Biomedical scientists as well as many intercalated BSc medical students, MD and PhD students who passed through the University Department over more than 30 years, and subsequently to many young pathologists in training through the NHS service laboratories. 

Her interests outside medicine were classical music and opera.

Unfortunately, in recent years she suffered a succession of illnesses, borne uncomplainingly and with fortitude and courage."

Gwyneth Lewis is survived by her sister, Mrs Olwyn Scott.

The funeral service will take place on Wednesday, 27 July, 2011, at 12.20pm, at Lawnswood Crematorium, Otley Road, Leeds 16.  

In keeping with Gwyneth’s wishes, there will be no gathering after the service and no flowers. If anyone wishes to make a donation, Gwyneth requested that this be made to support research into Alzheimer’s disease.

In memory of Gwyneth Lewis, the flag will be flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building on Wednesday.