|2 Mar 2020|
|Deaths & Obituaries|
The following obituary was written by Andrew Lewis-Barned, with the help of Rev. Victor Howlett.
Ralph Midwinter, who died at the age of 88 on 16 February 2020, attended QEH from 1942 to 1949. He and his family had been evacuated to a cottage half way up Toghill in Doynton near Bath and he would trudge across fields to catch his bus to school in far off Bristol. Quite an arduous journey particularly in the austere wartime years but he never forgot his roots.
Ralph went on from QEH to attend Bristol University before holding various posts as a doctor. Initially he was a registrar in Neonatology, then in the Public Health Service. Finally, he became a consultant lecturer in Public Health at Bristol University at Canynge Hall. He helped with disadvantaged children both in clinics and hospitals, and was an examiner for several universities where he was a stickler for grammar.
Life was not all work. Ralph, with Audrey his wife of 56 years also a medical consultant, visited many countries ranging from trekking nearly to Everest base camp, to camping in Iceland, to a two person Safari, all before the world was a clone of McDonald’s and Apple. Only later did everybody learn that he had landed at every one of the world’s ten most dangerous airports!
About 50 years ago Ralph returned to live in his boyhood village of Doynton where he still knew many people. He became a church warden of both Doynton and Dyrham, chairman of Doynton Langton charity and helped the administration of carers based at Cossham. He was also influential in preserving Doynton when it was threatened with development which would have spoilt its essential village character. Further afield he compiled the architectural and monument parts of church records in Dyrham, Frampton Cotterell and Frenchay.
Once retired, he initially refused to use computers and the internet - he had a very good secretary at work, until Audrey refused to do the third or fourth draft of a letter or paper. He readily became a big fan of Google and Ebay and one of his greatest pleasures was to research historical subjects. He was invariably online on the lookout for artefacts and amassed a wonderful collection of antique books as well as collections of Russian boxes, Coalport China, medals, coins and local history postcards. He was fascinated by the provenance of these items, above their value, and was pleased to return some items to their rightful owners.
For relaxation he also worked on his small farm whether cutting down trees with a chainsaw or tending to his herd of prize Gloucester cattle.
When Ralph made one of his regular visits to QEH he invariably withdrew a rare curio from his jacket pocket. Once it was a silver medal awarded to a QEH boy from yesteryear which he presented to Steve Ryan for the school archives, another time a different kind of medal awarded for a prize bull - to add to his own extensive collection.
Ralph always chose to be discrete and self-effacing in matters relating to his Alma Mater. Many boys who have gone through QEH will not be aware that the funding of their education was only possible through Ralph’s generosity.
In addition, Ralph paid in large part for the QEH digital archive, where all important historical documents and publications are stored for posterity, giving ready internet access to anyone interested in researching the school. http://queenelizabethshospitalschool.daisy.websds.net
Those who knew him will miss Ralph greatly and we at QEH cannot fully do justice in this piece to his kindness and generosity.