General Practice/Primary Care
Designatory Letters: 
MB Edin 1943, MD Edin 1963, FRCP Edin 1965, FRCGP 1970, AFOM 1980

After attending George Watson’s Boys College (as it was then called) David studied Medicine at Edinburgh University, qualifying in 1943 after which he, with four of his friends from medical school, worked at Leith Hospital before going into the forces, which for David meant the Royal Navy. His first ship was HMS Loch Killin, a submarine hunter. It was his time on board this ship that led to his successful autobiographical book The Bridge with Broken Arches. One day the great Cunard liner Queen Mary passed near to Loch Killin and sent the message “ Is your doctor called Illingworth?” David’s father was the captain of this, the original Queen Mary.

He was then sent to Batavia in the East Indies, officially as senior medical officer, but in fact the only doctor there. A bitter conflict was in progress between the Indonesians and the Dutch. On return home he married his sweetheart from Leith Hospital days, Lesley and set his sights on a career in hospital and academic medicine. During his four years in the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh but also received an invitation to leave hospital medicine and become a general practitioner in a practice in Bruntsfield Edinburgh. Eager to care for the ‘whole person’ rather than the diseases from which his patients suffered he gladly accepted the invitation and so began an outstanding career in general practice. By today’s standards his contract was demanding and, in financial terms, not very rewarding. For a salary of £1,000 per annum and every third Sunday off duty he had to conduct three surgeries and do 20 house calls each day and his own obstetric deliveries.

As if this was not enough he embarked on research which would lead to his graduating MD Edinburgh and in 1966 he spent six months in the USA studying cancer prevention as a Nuffield Scholar. Probably the highlight of his career was when, in 1970, he was appointed Physician to the Royal Family in Scotland.

In 1980, probably to the dismay of many of his patients, he retired on health grounds but at last found time to play more golf and improve his bridge. He is remembered in the College for his wonderful example of an ever-dedicated , always caring doctor worthy of being elected a FRCGP, and for his faithful attendances at it’s Senior Fellows Club where he always seemed to know and be known by everyone there.