Dr Richard Pomeroy, R.I.P.

Dr Richard Pomeroy receiving his MBE

Dr Richard Pomeroy hailed from the coastal town of Youghal in County Cork and was the son of a bank manager.

He underwent his training as a doctor at Cork University College Medical School.

Prior to that he had a variety of jobs, including coal miner and radio officer on a freighter, before he enrolled at medical school – meaning he had already experienced a broad spectrum of life when he took up his first job as a doctor in England.

He initially worked in Stratford-upon-Avon and Walsall before moving to Birmingham.

He worked as a locum at Alum Rock in the city, but when he heard about the city council’s plans for the major housing development in Chelmsley Wood, he knew immediately it would provide the challenge he wanted.

His association with the Birmingham overspill estate that is now part of Solihull was a long one and he was hailed with making an enormous contribution to healthcare in the area.

He also campaigned tirelessly against the disparity in death rates in the Solihull area.

Dr Pomeroy started his first practice single-handedly in a small rented house as the Birmingham overspill estate was still being developed in the 1960s.

“It was tough going at first, frontier stuff,” Dr Pomeroy recalled in a newspaper interview years later. “The people settling there had come out of Birmingham, they had brand new homes but missed the old neighbourhoods they were so familiar with.

“Unlike other places where Birmingham people moved to, such as Telford or Redditch, there was no existing social infrastructure.

Dr Pomeroy was largely instrumental in founding the Craig Croft GP practice in Chelmsley Wood in 1968 and by the early 1970s it had nearly 15,000 patients.

“The health problems were of a kind endemic to areas of deprivation, where there was a lot of unemployment and actual poverty,” he said. “Infant mortality was quite high compared with the national average and pneumonia was a frequent cause of death.”

Craig Croft went on to establish a reputation for leading the way among GP surgeries with its maternity services and on tackling alcohol and drug problems.

Regarding the disparity in death rates in north and south Solihull Dr Pomeroy said: “I want to see an end to the situation where the people of the north of the borough get less than those in the south in terms of services, including health.”

Dr Pomeroy, who formerly served on the West Midlands Regional Health Authority, was awarded the MBE in 1993 for “services to the people of Birmingham”.

He was also a long-serving member of the board of governors of Solihull Sixth Form College.

Among his many interests was aviation – he was a qualified pilot – and among other things he gave medical check-ups to air crews based at Birmingham Airport.

His first GP partner, Dr Martin Allin, paid tribute to him. “Dick was a very caring doctor, someone who worked for the public rather than himself. He did an awful lot for the people of Chelmsley Wood.”

Another former partner, Dr Jenny Bent, said: “He was a very kind man and popular with all his patients. Knowing that he liked a drink, some of them used to give him a bottle of whisky at Christmas.”

Dr Pomeroy was twice married. He leaves a widow, Michele, five daughters by his first wife, Jo, who also survives him, and one stepdaughter.

His funeral at Hampton-in-Arden Church on July 17 was attended by hundreds of mourners – many friends, former colleagues and patients from his Chelmsley Wood days. He was buried in Hampton churchyard.