Arthur Charles Thomson

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Arthur was born at Hopehill on the Taieri. He attended the Otago Boy's High School and graduated at Otago medical School in 1908. After a year or more as house surgeon at Auckland he went to England and was briefly on the house staff at Guy's Hospital. In 1913 he took the FRCSE.

Back in New Zealand, with the intention of settling down, he married in 1913 and bought a practice on Kaikoura from Dr. Gunn. Almost immediately the war broke out and he volunteered for active service. In England there were, at one stage, two doctors required for duties in France and three volunteers. A ballot followed and Dr. Thomson lost and was sent to Codford, the venereal disease camp. Here, uncomplainingly, he stayed for the duration of the war. He returned to a position on the Christchurch Hospital staff. Shortly after, he entered private practice.

At the time the public were concerned over falling moral standards. There was an insistence on an efficient hospital VD clinic. Naturally Dr. Thomson was appointed to this position and he held it for 26 years. It was arduous work. The treatment was cumbersome and often ineffective. Only in his last decade were antibiotics available. Although a nominal clinic had a feeble existence throughout the war years the present clinic was really founded by Dr. Thomson in 1919. It grew to the stage where some evening sessions were attended by 100 patients. Also in 1919 he took over the duties of gaol surgeon from Dr. Courtney Nedwill and held the position for many years. A little later he became superintendent of Essex Home mainly, though not exclusively, for unmarried mothers.

His large private practice included lodges, obstetrics and anaesthetics (especially for Sir Hugh Acland). He never practised surgery for which he had no liking. but his main activities were with the three seamy aspects of medical practice - venereal disease, illegitimacy and crime. This was all the more remarkable because his personality included none of the coarser strains to be found in such patients. He was gentle, kind and never self-assertive. He took no part in medical politics, accepted no position of power, rarely voiced an opinion and never campaigned in his life. Yet, despite this reserve he a very highly respected doctor in Christchurch. When the divisional ethical committee was formed in 1950 his was the first nomination.

His smooth professional life was kept separate from his private life. He represented New Zealand University at rugby in 1906 against Sydney University. He was a good player at tennis and golf. Other interests were gardening (importing bulbs from England), the RSA and racing.

Some men achieve fame by pinnacles of achievement. Others achieve fame through the long record of inconspicuous work patiently and efficiently performed. He was of the latter.