Farewell to popular family doctor

Dr John C Johnson
Dr John C Johnson

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular family doctor, who has died at the age of 90.

Dr John Cunningham Johnson MBE was a general practitioner in the Alnwick area for 37 years until his retirement in 1986. Popular with his patients, often over several generations, for his care and concern, he was also held in high regard by his colleagues.

For 33 years, he was Civilian Medical Practitioner for RAF Boulmer and was a friend and doctor to the Franciscan community at Alnmouth.

After qualifying at Edinburgh University in 1943, he served in the RAF Medical Corp in Malaya, Singapore and India, where he saw the very early use of penicillin. In the late 1940s, he returned to Edinburgh to work in the Fever Hospital and the Sick Children’s Hospital during a severe polio epidemic.

In 1949, he came to Alnwick to join Dr Blaiklock in General Practice. He was proud of his contribution to the opening of the Consulting Rooms in 1966, which greatly improved working conditions and patient facilities.

Dr Johnson was a member of Alnwick Rotary Club from 1955, twice serving as president and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship in 1997. He continued to attend the weekly lunch until shortly before his death.

He acted as chairman of Alnwick Abbeyfield for over 20 years and was instrumental in establishing the Extra Care Home, which was opened by Princess Anne in 1985. His active support and involvement with many charities, especially the time and devotion he gave to Abbeyfield, was recognised in 1995 with an MBE.

He continued to be closely involved in the management of Abbeyfield Extra Care right up to his recent illness.

Despite his many commitments, he found time to enjoy his hobbies. As well as being a keen gardener, he had a love of watersports throughout his life, starting with rowing at Edinburgh University, later fly fishing on the river Aln and dinghy sailing at Berwick Sailing Club. He also enjoyed collecting old prints and curiosities.

In retirement, he researched his family history and was excited to find a large extended family of Johnson relatives on the Shetland Islands.

He moved to Bamburgh in 1996, the place where he was born and where his grandfather had been the local doctor. He had many community interests in Bamburgh, including the restoration of the Grace Darling Memorial.

He is survived by his second wife, Cynthia, three daughters from his marriage to his first wife Dilly, a step-daughter and step-son and also seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

His funeral took place at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh, on Monday, May 9. Cynthia and his family were touched by the large number of people who had made the journey to be there for the service and for the generous donations to the Gurkha Welfare Trust and to Cancer Research UK. He will be sadly missed by all his friends and family and remembered as a kind and gentle man.