Tributes for town GP who pioneered LIVES

Dr Michael Townsend and his wife Liz.
Dr Michael Townsend and his wife Liz.
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A retired GP who helped set up both emergency response and home-based hospice services in Spalding has died, aged 75.

Dr Michael Townsend, part of the medical team at Spalding’s Church Street Surgery (now Beechfield Medical Centre), passed away on May 14 at his home in the town after a two-year battle with cancer.

Vicar of Spalding and chairman of governors at Spalding Grammar School, Rev John Bennett described Dr Michael Townsend as "a friend and somebody who I felt very warmly towards".  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Vicar of Spalding and chairman of governors at Spalding Grammar School, Rev John Bennett described Dr Michael Townsend as "a friend and somebody who I felt very warmly towards". Photo by Tim Wilson.

As a GP, Dr Townsend and other medics at Church Street Surgery established South Holland LIVES (Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service) in the 1980s and introduced the Hospice at Home end of life care service run by St Barnabas Hospice.

Dr Townsend leaves a wife, Liz, son Robert, daughter Ruth and grandchildren Gwenfair, Christopher and Joseph, while another daughter Paula passed away before him.

In a statement, Dr Townsend’s family said: “We are extremely sad to have lost the cornerstone of our family but we take comfort from knowing that in his working life, Dad was able to make a difference to the well-being of people in this area.

“Retirement gave him the opportunity to develop his love of canals, railways and skiing, as well as more time to be the husband, father and grandfather we now miss so much.”

Dr Townsend was born in North Lincolnshire but moved to Cowbit with his family as a nine-year-old and later went to Spalding Grammar School, before studying medicine at Cambridge University.

After his medical training at St George’s Hospital, London, where he met his wife, Dr Townsend returned to Spalding and joined Church Street Surgery where he worked until retiring in 2000.

A spokesman for Beechfield Medical Centre, said: “Dr Townsend joined Church Street Surgery as a partner in March 1968 and became the Senior Partner in 1985, a position he retained until his retirement after 32 years at the end of 2000.

“He was a highly regarded member of the practice amongst colleagues, staff and patients, a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a trainer of other potential GPs and an active member of the Local Medical Committee.”

Outside of work, Dr Townsend was a member of Spalding Round Table which he was president of in 1979-80, Spalding Gentlemens’ Society and a Spalding Grammar School governor from 1978 until 2016, including a 14-year spell as chairman of governors from 1991 until 2005.

Current chairman of governors Rev John Bennett said: “Dr Townsend contributed an enormous amount from his great knowledge of the school, but he was also somebody who had a lot of wisdom and a deep understanding of the its ethos.

“He is one of those figures who will be missed both at the school and in the town.”