Public Health/Epidemiology
Designatory Letters: 
MRCS Eng, LRCP Lond 1942, PhD Edin 1962, MRCP Edin 1974, FRCP Edin 1979, FFCM 1982

Alfred Raymond Mills (Ray) was born at Headingley, Leeds on 31 October 1916. He attended Leeds Grammar School until 1932. From 1936 to 1942 he studied medicine at University of Leeds Medical School.

His personal views developing during Medical school were such that in 1943 he joined the Friends Ambulance Unit and became a Medical Officer in the FAU attached to the British Middle East Forces, serving in Palestine, Egypt and the Dodecanese until 1945. In 1945 he received a Commendation from General Sir Bernard Paget, CinC Middle East for work in Refugee Camps. Whilst in Palestine in 1945 he met Georgina Vrousos, a member of the Corps of Greek Volunteer Nurses, Alexandria, also serving in the Nuserat refugee camp; they married in 1946, in Nicosia. From May 1945 until September 1947, Ray Mills was Senior MO in charge of the 250 bed hospital in Rhodes, set up by the British Military Administration in an old hotel. Soon after arrival in Rhodes he met the writer Lawrence Durrell and formed a lifelong friendship. In 1947-48 he was transferred to British Military Administration in Eritrea as Deputy Director Public Health.

Whilst in Eritrea, Ray and Georgina lost their first child due to the then unrecognised Hemolytic Disease caused by incompatibilities of blood types. A second similar loss occurred back in England some two years later and deciding that a major change was necessary, he joined the Overseas Civil Service and was appointed as the first British Government Medical Officer in the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. He served there for 5 years before returning to take up a position as senior lecturer in Public Health and Social Medicine at Edinburgh University. Here he also completed a PhD following Research in Sierra Leone on the effects of the mining industry and spent two periods as a WHO Visiting professor in University of Baroda in India. This relationship in India prospered and from 1969-77 he was a WHO Regional Advisor in South East Asia Region and WHO Representative in Nepal. During this time the WHO programme to eradicate smallpox achieved its aim when the last case was recorded in India and he was very proud to have been part of the team that achieved this result. Ray Mills was very much more than a skilled medical man. As a result of his work and travels he had friends at all levels of society around the world. He was a true polymath with a deep understanding and appreciation of the arts, anthropology and archaeology. He had a deeply inquiring mind, was an avid reader in several languages and remained an enthusiastic conversationalist and debater with extraordinary faculty for remembering detail of all he experienced.

His wife predeceased him, in 1994, and he took to cruising, the Swan Hellenic way, enjoying particularly the Mediterranean and Black Sea countries about which he frequently knew more that the guest speakers. In his latter years he was also a fanatical visitor to Edinburgh art galleries, theatre, opera and ballet, willing to try anything at the Festival Fringe and producing critical analysis of the most obscure events and exhibitions.

As a friend recently commented, 'he was a person of whom it could truly be said that one always felt better for having been in his company'.