By: Joseph Winkelman | Richard Greenhall obituary | Neuroscience | The Guardian
My friend Richard Greenhall, who has died aged 77, was an accomplished neurologist with a special interest in Parkinson’s disease. He became a consultant in the department of neurology at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, in 1977 at the unusually early age of 33.
He was born in Birmingham, the son of George Greenhall, a dental mechanic, and Elsie (nee Bromwich), a housewife. Richard attended King Edward’s school, Birmingham, where he was head boy and met his future wife, Elizabeth Reiner, then head girl of the associated girls’ school, when arranging school dances.
Richard went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied medicine. After clinical training at St Thomas’s hospital in London, he worked as a junior doctor in London, Bristol and Oxford. In 1969 he married Elizabeth. They lived and worked in Oxford, bringing up a family of three children.
As well as his clinical practice Richard taught medical students at Oxford University and helped develop neurology services in Oxford and the surrounding area. His commitment to the NHS was such that he not only refused to practise privately but had recently refused private treatment for his own debilitating leg injury. Nye Bevan was his hero.
His colleague Professor Kevin Talbot has described Richard as a “jobbing” neurologist who put patients first, and was never particularly motivated by seeing his name in print. In a career of more than 30 years he published only a handful of papers, but his positive influence on the culture of Oxford neurology is a far greater legacy. “Even the most junior neurology trainee felt valued, put at their ease and made to feel an important part of the team,” said Professor Talbot. “Regular Friday after-work debriefing sessions at the Royal Oak across the road from the Radcliffe Infirmary –obligingly facilitated by the hospital switchboard operator with a pager message to attend meeting on ‘Oak ward’ – were an opportunity to benefit from the wider curriculum of cricket, music, politics and neurological gossip.”
Proud of the Welsh roots of his father’s family, and with a cottage in Powys, Richard escorted guests using seasoned railway knowledge to rugby internationals in Cardiff, county cricket in Worcester and football matches at West Bromwich Albion. An expert gardener, champion grower of broad beans, and admired for his fine woodworking skills, he fashioned a magnificently accommodating dinner table from a fallen Cymric beech tree around which he and Elizabeth gathered friends for delightful feasts and engaging conversation.