Former consultant psychiatrist South Ockenden Hospitals, London (b Hertfordshire 1923; q Middlesex 1946; MD, FRCPsych), d 23 July 1999.
As a medical student he was with one of the first teams to go into the Belsen concentration camp, which was a harrowing experience for him. While working as a GP, Gordon became inspired by patients with learning disability whom he met, and later as a senior registrar he began to study for his master’s degree, specialising in the care of people with learning disability.
He devoted the rest of his life to the subject, researched into mental subnormality, wrote a standard reference book, and became a leading authority on the genetic causes of mental subnormality. From 1961 to 1975 Gordon was superintendent administrator and psychiatrist at the South Ockenden Hospitals. He advocated care in the community before it became accepted, and his revolutionary approach to the care of people with learning disability was partly responsible for the change in attitude to today’s more sympathetic regimen.
Gordon’s belief that people with learning disability should not be categorised and shut away sometimes led him into conflict with officialdom. He relished the challenge and worked particularly hard to improve the quality of life of children. In 1975 he was appointed consultant psychiatrist responsible for people with learning disabilities in Herefordshire, where he set up the special unit in Ledbury Road. When he retired in 1985 he was able to devote more time to photography, painting, and his five grandchildren. He leaves a wife, Barbara—they were shortly to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.
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