All who had the pleasure of meeting or working with Geoff Hanks will understandably have different memories and descriptions of him. What no-one will deny is that he was a giant – intellectually, clinically, as a researcher, as a teacher, as a committee man, as an editor, as a pioneer in palliative medicine.
Already qualified as a physician and clinical pharmacologist he went to Oxford to train under Robert Twycross before being appointed Consultant in Palliative Care in The Royal Marsden Hospital (London and Sutton). When the first Chair of Palliative Medicine was created in St Thomas´s and Guys Hospital, London he was the obvious man for the job. After seeing his team settled, he then moved to Bristol to be Professor of Palliative Medicine and remained there until his relatively recent retirement.
He served on the Board of the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund in the UK, on the Board of IAHPC (2008-2010), and on the Board of the EAPC finally serving as a distinguished President. He will also be remembered with affection and deep gratitude as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Palliative Medicine, now recognised as one of the finest specialist medical journals in the world, largely thanks to him.
With MacDonald and Doyle he was a Co- Editor of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine and sat on umpteen editorial boards. All this whilst serving as a senior clinician, a medical professor and a supervisor of PhD students, and playing his full role in the University of Bristol.
Always gentle and gracious, far more ready to listen than to talk, a delightful host, a riveting lecturer, an oenologist and one of the best friends many of us have ever had. Palliative Medicine has lost one of its giants but we, who are left, will always be able to say we knew, and learnt from, one of the finest doctors and colleagues at work in this young specialty to which he gave so much.
This article was originally published as part of the IAHPC June newsletter.