TRIBUTES have been made to Dr John Sibthorpe, an eye surgeon who worked in general practice and for 40 years in hospitals in Huntingdon, Cambridge and Peterborough. Dr Sibthorpe, a form

Report by ANGELA SINGER

TRIBUTES have been made to Dr John Sibthorpe, an eye surgeon who worked in general practice and for 40 years in hospitals in Huntingdon, Cambridge and Peterborough.

Dr Sibthorpe, a former chairman of Huntingdon Society for the Blind, was an ophthalmologist specialist. He died on Monday, January 5 at home in Hemingford Abbotts, aged 73. He had been suffering from cancer for five years.

He first came to Huntingdon in 1964 to practice as a GP at 84 Huntingdon High Street, at the invitation of Huntingdon doctor, Dan Connan, with whom he had trained at King's College Hospital in London.

Dr Connan, who was with Dr Sibthorpe and his family when he died, said: "John was a lifelong friend. We met and medical school and he and his wife, Joan were at our wedding. He was a lovely chap. He was a very good partner, he instantly took on a whole load of work, we were very busy when he got there. He got in straight away. He cared for the patients and he liked them. We were very sorry when he was enticed away by consultants at the county hospital, but he was always interested in eyes and he was a good surgeon, he carried out a lot of squint corrections. He was a very nice man, very positive and very forceful."

Dr Derek Cracknell who was already at the practice at the time, said: "John was a wonderful friend, he was fond of a good story. He was an excellent raconteur and he was a friend to most of his patients, too.

"He was a meticulous man. When we met, we had similar hobbies. He was recognised everywhere for his beautiful woodwork and he joined every group going."

Dr Sibthorpe met his wife Joan at King's College Hospital where she was training to become a nurse. They were introduced by friends and she invited him to a nurses' ball. She was originally from Cornwall and he from Ilford, Essex. He did his National Service in the RAF where he trained in ophthalmic medicine. The couple moved to Hemingford Abbots in 1968.

After leaving the Huntingdon GP practice, Dr Sibthorpe worked at Huntingdon County Hospital, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Peterborough Hospital and then Hinchingbrooke Hospital from where he retired in 1996.

However, a month after he retired he returned to work carrying out eye-tests for Harold's Opticians in St Ives.

His daughter, Helen, a nurse, said about her father: "He was very popular with his patients. He was an amazing man. He would do anything for anyone. He would put himself out for people. He was very hard-working and very family orientated. He was always fixing things, cars, hi fi sets, radios. He mended things for the Huntingdon Blind Society. He was a quiet man and he loved music, from Bach to Abba."

Remembering her father's penchant for making things, she said: "I wanted a denim coat when I was 16 and he made me one. He taught me that I could do anything. Just because I was a girl, it didn't mean that I couldn't change a wheel on the car. He gave me independence."

Dr Sibthorpe's son, Richard, a London GP, said: "If he bought a dishwasher, for example, as soon as he got it, he would strip it down and rebuild it so that if it broke down, he would know how to mend it. He would upholster sofas.

"When he was told his old Austin was a write off, he took it home and restored it and it passed an engineer's report. I drove it for years."

Dr Sibthorpe leaves five grandchildren: Ralph, Daniel, Craig, Ines and Emilio. His funeral will be at St Margaret's Church in Hemingford Abbots on Friday, January 16. Family flowers only but donations to the church or to The Woodlands Centre at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Caption: DEDICATED DOCTOR: John Sibthorpe on holiday in Scotland in 1989.