Family pay tribute to 'gentle, kind and compassionate' Norwich doctor

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital former medical director dies

Dr Ian Brooksby, former medical director at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has died - Credit: Supplied by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Tributes have been paid to an "exceptional doctor and friend to many", who has died aged 76.

Dr Iain Brooksby, former medical director and cardiologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), died on October 29 after being diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

Born in Guildford, Surrey, on April 11, 1945, he went on to study natural sciences at Cambridge University before training to be a doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital.

Dr Brooksby spent more than 30 years working as a cardiologist, treating thousands of patients who benefitted from his dedication and skill. His family said medicine was “truly a vocation” and they had received tributes from a number of his former colleagues and patients for his kindness, compassion and sense of humour.

Dr Iain Brooksby with his family

Dr Iain Brooksby with his family - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

His wife, Sarah, said: “He was a gentle, kind, and compassionate man. He was an incredibly vocational doctor and a devoted family man. [He] enjoyed his children’s visits and holidays to Norfolk.

“Iain’s cancer diagnosis in 2018 was a cruel intrusion into his post-retirement enjoyment, but he bore it with typical bravery and dignity and remained reasonably active up until the end.”

The family moved to Norfolk in December 1978, and lived in Aylsham.

Known by his colleagues affectionately as Dr B, he went on to spend a decade working as medical director at the NNUH until his retirement in 2009. He served in this role during the transition from the former St Stephens site in Norwich to its current home in Colney Lane in 2001, becoming a teaching hospital in 2002.

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Professor Erika Denton, NNUH medical director, said: “Iain’s leadership was fundamental in taking forward these developments and we are indebted to him for his outstanding commitment to this trust and for steering us through a period of significant change in our history."

Dr Iain Brooksby

Dr Iain Brooksby - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Dr Brooksby was a man of many talents and in his early years much of his energy was focused on rowing. At school, he coxed the Radley VIII which won the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley in 1962, and went on to cox both Goldie and the Blue Boat during his time at Cambridge. He remained an enthusiastic rowing supporter and a member of the Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley.

In later life, he kept more sedate sporting pursuits focused on country sports and golf where he was a member of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club. He was thrilled when his son, Angus, was elected a member in the summer of 2021.

He was a keen tennis player and there were many competitive Brooksby family games of mixed doubles, where he had a deceptively deadly backhand slice. He was also a keen armchair sportsman following rugby and cricket.

More culturally, he was an enthusiastic opera fan and particularly enjoyed trips to the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne, his last trip being in August 2021.

He had a love of Africa, developed when he was supporting his father’s veterinary research in East Africa as a student at university. In recent years, he was able to enjoy safaris in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. He also enjoyed trips to Italy, which was fortunate given that his daughter, Claire, studied Italian at university and spent a year living in Milan.

Dr Iain Brooksby

Dr Iain Brooksby - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

He kept two pet donkeys until a recent house move and on occasion was found showing them at the Royal Norfolk Show, participating in various Palm Sunday processions, or displaying them at the annual Spring Fling at the showground.

He kept a busy schedule post-retirement and was involved with a number of charities: The Norfolk Heart Trust, Marie Curie and Norwich Consolidated Charities.

Dr Brooksby is survived by his wife Sarah, children Claire and Angus, daughter-in-law Kelsey, and grandson Harry. His storytelling abilities will be much missed by Harry in particular.

There will be a service of thanksgiving on Saturday, June 11, at 11.30 at St Michael’s Church in Aylsham.  

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