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Robert Kennedy was educated at Radley College, and went on to read medicine at Caius College, Cambridge, where he was in the college eight rowing team. His clinical training was at University College Hospital, London, and after his first appointment at UCH, he entered war service during the Second World War with the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.

When the war was over, he returned to UCH where he extended his already deep interest in psychiatry. However, he chose to make his career in general practice, and, in July 1947, he came to Hungerford, where he bought equal shares in the partnership, which became Drs. Wallis and Kennedy.

Prior to Dr. Boyd's retirement, the doctors had set up a small Health Service of their own, wherein patients below a certain income level paid a small weekly sum, and received medical services and drugs free, just as did those "on the Panel". At the same time, Savernake Hospital at Marlborough ran a "Penny in the Pound" scheme, which virtually all patients joined.

Dr. Wallis was responsible for Hungerford Hospital, and Dr. Kennedy was appointed "Parish Doctor", and was responsible for all the "poor", that is those not eligible to be "panel" patients, nor able to afford to pay privately.

When the N.H.S. was started in 1948, it had very little effect on the Practice, except that the partners were saved the work of sending out bills to patients. There was, however, considerably more paperwork and clerical work to do.

One minor advantage was that prior to the N.H.S. Dr. Wallis had been running an Infant Welfare Clinic on a voluntary unpaid basis, which then became a paid occupation! Max Wallis comments that Aneuran Bevan always boasted that he had started this sort of clinic.

Dr. Kennedy lived during this period in Manor House, which was rented from the Hungerford Laundry Company. Whilst they were at Manor House, he and his wife had four children, all boys. In due course, two of them were to follow in their father's footsteps and become doctors, whilst a third is a solicitor.

Dr Robert Kennedy retired in July 1980 after 33 years as a GP in the town. See "Town say 'thank yo' to a devoted doctor" - NWN 10 Jul 1980.

Photo Gallery:

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- Robert and Becky Kennedy in their garden at Brae House, 1980.

- Robert Kennedy's Retirement Party, Corn Exchange, Hungerford, 1980, with Robert James, Jack Williams, and Becky Kennedy.

- Robert and Becky Kennedy c1981

Obituary of Dr. R. D. Kennedy (from Newbury Weekly News, Mar 1980):

DR. ROBERT KENNEDY, who retired from general practice in Hungerford only nine months ago, died on Saturday in Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, after a very short illness.

Robert Kennedy was born in Australia on April 1, 1915. His father was a doctor, and the family returned to England for him to serve with the RAMC when Robert was five months old. He was stationed in Malta for the rest of the war. In 1918 his father took over a practice in St. John's Road, Newbury. The family moved to Bucklebury in 1934.

Educated at Radley College, Robert Kennedy read medicine at Caius College, Cambridge, where he was honoured to row for the college eight, and University College Hospital, London. After his first appointment at UCH, he entered war service with the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.

When the war was over, he returned to UCH, where he extended his already deep interest in psychiatry. It was during this period in London that he married Becky, whom he had known for a number of years. They would have celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary on Monday.

Robert chose to make a career of general practice, and, in July 1947, he came to Hungerford in partnership with Max Wallis. He devoted his whole time and energy to the care of his patients in the town, and for over 30 years he represented the area on the Berkshire Local Medical Committee.

Friends, colleagues, and patients alike will remember him for his kindness, compassion, dry sense of humour, and willingness to help. Above all there was a painstaking thoroughness in everything he did. He never rushed or denied anyone needing his attention, and he was always alert to new developments in medicine.

His main hobbies were gardening, tapestry, knitting, and hill walking. Many will also know of his keen interest in building works; wherever holes were dug, or buildings erected, Robert would often be found paying occasional visits to study progress.

His retirement in June 1980 ended both 33 years in the National Health Service, and 33 years service to Hungerford. This exceptional commitment to the community was well recognised by the large number of people who attended his retirement presentation in July, wishing him a long and well-earned rest.

In all he did, he was ably supported by his devoted wife Becky, and their four sons and families. He found great joy in His two grandchildren.

His planned new home in Inkpen is already partly built, and it is especially distressing that he was denied the fulfilment of this ambition.

A Thanksgiving Service will be held to-day in St. Lawrence's Church, Hungerford, at 2.30 pm.

Obituary from the British Medical Journal, 11 Apr 1981:

R D Kennedy, MA, MB, BCH.
Dr R D Kennedy, who retired from general practice at Hungerford, Berkshire, nine months ago, died in hospital on 14 March after a short illness. He was 65.

Robert Dill Kennedy was born in Australia on 1 April 1915. His father was a doctor, and the family returned to England for him to serve with the RAMC when Robert was 5 months old. In 1918 his father took over a practice at Newbury, and the family moved to Bucklebury in 1934. Educated at Radley College, Robert Kennedy read medicine at Caius College, Cambridge, where he was honoured to row for the college eight, and at University College Hospital, London. After his first appointment at University College Hospital he entered war service with the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.

When the war was over Robert returned to UCH, where he extended his deep interest in psychiatry; even so, he chose to make a career in general practice and in July 1947 he came to Hungerford in partnership with Max Wallis. His whole time and energy were devoted to the care of his patients in the town and for over 30 years he represented the area on the Berkshire local medical committee. Friends, colleagues, and patients will remember him for his kindness, compassion, dry sense of humour, and for his willingness to help. Above all, there was a painstaking thoroughness in everything that he did; he never rushed or denied anyone needing his attention, and he was always alert to new developments in medicine.

Robert Kennedy's main hobbies were gardening, tapestry, knitting, and hillwalking. He was also keenly interested in building works; wherever holes were dug or buildings erected in the area, Robert was to be found studying progress. His retirement in June 1980 ended 33 years in the National Health Service and 33 years' devoted service to the community of Hungerford, a commitment that was well recognised by the large number of people who attended his retirement presentation last year.

In all that he did Robert was ably supported by his devoted wife, Becky. They would have celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary two days after his death. He is survived by her and by four sons, two of whom are doctors, and by two grandchildren.—HLP.

From the Editor's "Local Chat" in the Newbury weekly News, 19 Mar 1981:

Doctor remembered for his great kindness:

As Hugh Pihlens has written in another place, it is particularly cruel that Doctor Robert Kennedy should have died so soon after his retirement, and with imaginative plans for that retirement so well advanced. I know him slightly, but I had cause to observe his kindness and perception during a particularly harrowing bereavement. Dr. Kennedy arrived in the middle of the following day and plonked himself down on the sofa, from whence he proceeded to give forth for nearer two hours than one. What he said amounted to very little, in the way of substance, but it was a masterly example of the principle skill of a country doctor, the skill of communication. I have no more memory now, than I had as he left, what on earth he had said but I know that he wreaked a profound and beneficial change in the situation. It is no criticism of those who follow him, to say that every time a man like Robert Kennedy is lost, so is a whole school of doctoring diminished.

See also:

- History of Medicine in Hungerford