David Hall, chairman of the MDS UK Patient Support Group for three years, died on Thursday 6th October 2011 at the age of 81. In the course of treatment for prostate cancer he had developed MDS. David was vigorous in fighting both the effects of cancer, its gruelling treatment and his MDS for many years and was keen to help others in a similar position. His early career was as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm during the Korean War. Subsequently he worked in electronics, fibre-optics, video processing and many high-technology areas, initially as a sales engineer, rising to sales manager and eventually managing director. He was on the board of many companies. He was a great believer in people and keen to help their professional and personal development. He retired from this in 1986 but continued to be active in many fields.
In 2008 he had the honour of being appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers in recognition of his contribution to that society. He was described by a colleague as the “perfect English gentleman … always charming … elegantly dressed and free with his professional help and advice”.
One of his last wishes was to be driven in his immaculate, spotless Jaguar car to the coast to have oysters and champagne with his two sons – an ambition which he achieved with great pleasure. We miss his wisdom, generosity and experience greatly.
David was the main driver behind the re-birth of the MDS UK Patient Support Group, following a chance encounter at the EORA international conference on Rare Anaemias in Paris in 2008, where he struck up a conversation with a representative from the pharmaceutical company Novartis Oncology (Elodie Miranda) and Sophie (in her then role of European Patient Liaison for the MDS Foundation). The three of them quickly realised the need and opportunity to set up a formal nationwide support group for MDS in the UK. Very soon after, another pharma company, Celgene was also offering assistance (via the very knowledgeable Karen Browne). Several meetings later, the leaflet and a website were produced. This UK group followed the tried and tested model started by the MDS Foundation some 15 years ago. The UK group still uses the MDS Foundation patient handbooks. Their experience and assistance has been invaluable, as has that of both pharmaceutical companies Novartis Oncology and Celgene. We thank them all hugely for their continued support.
The group would certainly not have been the same without David’s influence and constant encouragement to all involved. We are planning to have a lecture named after him at the annual UK MDS Forum specialist conference, placing particular emphasis on the patient experience and quality of life issues.