Every day the prospect of surviving immersion, somewhere in the world, is improved because of Frank Golden, who died on 5th January 2014.
Francis St Clair Golden was born in Cork City on the 5th June 1936. He studied medicine at University College Cork, graduating in 1960 despite an interest in rugby (‘Colours’ 1958-61). After a year in the charitable North Infirmary Hospital, Frank went to London and spent 18 months in GP training. Following some friendly advice from his bank manager, he took a short service commission in the RN, joining as a Surgeon Lieutenant in 1963 and serving as MO on HMS JAGUAR before extending his short service commission to a permanent one. An outstanding career followed during which he served as: Consultant Adviser to the Medical Director General in Applied Physiology; Director of Naval Medical Research; Fleet Medical Officer and Medical Officer in Command of the RN Hospital Haslar. Frank retired from the RN in 1993 and joined the University of Surrey and then Portsmouth as Consultant Adviser in Human Physiology.
Almost uniquely, Frank managed to combine his naval duties with a successful scientific career. Whilst serving at RNAS Culdrose, he was involved in many air-sea rescues. It was the helplessness of not knowing how to prevent circum-rescue deaths that ignited his interest in physiology. In a subsequent appointment to the RN Air Medical School in Hampshire, he discovered, beneath the floorboards, a refrigerated pool that had been used after WWII to test aircrew immersion suits. So began a scientific career that spanned five decades providing new insights into the body’s physiological responses to immersion and cold exposure. In the early years of his studies he was frequently a participant in his own experiments. These led to improved techniques for the rescue and treatment of the victims of cold water immersion. His study of cold injury in the marines during the Falklands conflict was another of his considerable contributions to the understanding of thermal physiology.
Frank was awarded a Diploma in Aviation Medicine from London University in 1969. For over 35 years he hosted and inspired generations of students from the Universities of London, Sheffield and Leeds. Frank received a Ph.D. (Physiology) from Leeds in 1979 and published the last of over 70 scientific papers in January 2014. He never retired.
Frank’s voluntary activities were many, including being on the Executive Committee & Board of Management of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and chairing their Medical and Survival Committee for 13 years. His distinguished career brought worthy recognition: the Gilbert Blane Gold Medal from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians of London; the Pinkerton Medal from the British Anaesthetic Association; the Ireland Medal from the Lifesaving Foundation and Royal Life Saving Society (Ireland). He was also a Brother of the Order of St John and made Queen’s Honorary Physician. Frank was awarded an OBE in 1981.
But it is Frank Golden the man that most will remember: his honesty and humility, incisive mind and glorious sense of humour; a great raconteur, a man whose company and counsel one sought and which were never disappointing, a loyal and dependable colleague and friend. Frank Golden was a giant of a man in every sense; he will be missed by all who knew him. Many who never knew him will survive because of his outstanding work.
Frank leaves his wife Jenny, three children and five grandchildren.
Professor Mike Tipton