Dr Suku­mar ‘Su’ Sen MBE, Fort Wil­liam

The Oban Times - - News - KJ

DR SUKU­MAR ‘ Su’ Sen, 83, died on Sun­day Novem­ber 1 at home fol­low­ing a stroke.

He leaves his wife of 53 years, Shirley; his daugh­ter Sheila, Ard­gour; twin sons David, Mu­nich, and Robin, Greno­ble; grand­chil­dren Max, Mar­i­anne, Fran­coise and Natalie; a sis­ter and brother in Bi­har and West Ben­gal, In­dia, and many other fam­ily mem­bers and close friends.

Born and raised in Bi­har and West Ben­gal in the north east of In­dia, the son of a steel­worker, Su was the sec­ond youngest of seven chil­dren.

His mother died of TB when he was young and Su con­tracted malaria, which led to him miss­ing out on some of his for­mal school­ing. He was home ed­u­cated by his un­cle with whom he lived in quar­an­tine.

Su’s un­cle was re­spon­si­ble for reg­is­ter­ing him with the lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­ity and, not be­ing quite cer­tain of his facts, reg­is­tered him as be­ing born in 1935 – mak­ing him two years younger than he ac­tu­ally was.

In later years, this mis­take meant Su’s gov­ern­ment pen­sion was de­layed by two years!

Af­ter sur­viv­ing malaria, Su was the least robust of the seven Sen chil­dren and in later years he felt this was re­spon­si­ble for him be­ing very self- suf­fi­cient and able to pro­duce re­sults with min­i­mum re­sources – a skill that later served him well in his vol­un­tary work.

Af­ter leav­ing school, Su at­tended the Univer­sity of Cal­cutta and, at the age of 25, grad­u­ated with a BSc in Medicine.

Keen to fur­ther his med­i­cal skills, par­tic­u­larly in surgery, Su came to the UK in 1958 with the in­ten­tion of stay­ing for two years.

He took up a post in Louth Hospi­tal, Lin­colnshire, where he met Shirley, a qual­i­fied staff nurse, and they mar­ried.

The cou­ple lived in Fins­bury Park, Lon­don, and Wel­wyn Gar­den City be­fore mov­ing to Fort Wil­liam in 1965.

Mixed race mar­riages were not read­ily ac­cepted in the 1960s and, not yet hav­ing UK cit­i­zen­ship, Su was re­luc­tant to re­turn to In­dia lest it jeop­ar­dized his re­turn or their mar­riage.

In 1965, Su, Shirley and Sheila - along with their VW Beetle­car - ar­rived in Fort Wil­liam.

Su took up a post in the town’s Belford Hospi­tal as se­nior sur­gi­cal regis­trar, work­ing with Con­sul­tant Sur­geon Mr Iain Camp­bell, and with the anaes­thetic ser­vice pro­vided by lo­cal GP Dr Charles Con­nochie who be­came a close fam­ily friend.

Su had just taken up this post when Iain Camp­bell went off on a much de­layed break leav­ing Su in com­plete charge of all sur­gi­cal work in the hospi­tal.

The fam­ily lived orig­i­nally at Dal­na­haine on Belford Road, then Chen­deroh at Seafield Gar­dens, Blar Mor Road in Caol and, since the early 70s, on Ach­in­tore Road.

Sons Robin and David ar­rived two years later.

It’s the nor­mal prac­tice for the wife to tell the hus­band that she is ‘ with child’ but in the Sen house­hold it was the op­po­site way round – in his clin­i­cal role,

Su had the proud task of ex­am­in­ing the preg­nancy test and phon­ing Shirley to tell her that it was pos­i­tive!

Su had lots of hob­bies: pho­tog­ra­phy, gar­den­ing, watch­ing cricket, foot­ball, ten­nis, cook­ing and, at the in­vi­ta­tion of Charles Con­nochie, he joined the lo­cal Ro­tary Club in 1970.

He par­tic­i­pated earnestly in many com­mu­nity projects and locals will re­call see­ing him ‘bag pack­ing’ for char­ity at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket.

In the early 1970s, Su went into gen­eral prac­tice with his great friend Dr Roy Innes, even­tu­ally be­com­ing se­nior part­ner in ‘Sen, Robin­son and Gibb’, the fore­run­ner of the High Street Surgery, now Glen­mhor Med­i­cal Prac­tice.

Sheila worked as a jour­nal­ist and is now a painter and writer. David is a con­sul­tant soft­ware tech­ni­cian in Mu­nich and Robin teaches English lan­guage for engineering stu­dents in Greno­ble. Sheila has a son Max. Robin has three daugh­ters in France.

In re­cent years, Su at­tended evening classes to learn French – he was al­ways in­ter­ested in learn­ing more.

Dur­ing his work­ing life Su con­tin­u­ally and will­ingly got in­volved in staff sup­port roles. He founded the orig­i­nal Lochaber Med­i­cal So­ci­ety and the Lochaber Nurses So­ci­ety.

He set up the first lo­cal en­doscopy ser­vice in the mid 1970s and started the Belford Hospi­tal’s first med­i­cal li­brary.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from gen­eral prac­tice in 1995, Su im­mersed him­self in a huge range of com­mu­nity work.

He founded Lochaber Coun­cil on Al­co­hol and served as a coun­sel­lor un­til 2012. He was a di­rec­tor of the Cit­i­zens’ Ad­vice Bureau, a founder mem­ber and chair­man for 10 years of Lochaber Dis­abil­ity Ac­cess Panel and he set up and chaired Lochaber Ac­tion on Dis­abil­ity.

He also worked on count­less lo­cal com­mu­nity projects in­clud­ing Kil­mallie Gar­dens, Clag­gan Green­fin­gers, Caol in Bloom, Cor­pach Ma­rina and Caol Re­gen­er­a­tion Group, to name but a few.

He also gave his time and skills to the lo­cal Red Cross, the St John Am­bu­lance Ser­vice, Lochaber Deaf Care and many sport­ing events in­clud­ing the Lochaber Marathon.

His sub­stan­tial com­mu­nity work was recog­nised with the award of an MBE and, ear­lier this year, by the Ro­tary Club with the pre­sen­ta­tion of a Paul Harris Fel­low­ship - its high­est in­ter­na­tional award given for ex­cel­lence in ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

In its 65 years of ex­is­tence, the club has awarded less than a dozen Paul Harris Fel­low­ships.

On be­ing pre­sented with the Fel­low­ship Medal, a sur­prised and mod­est Ro­tar­ian Su re­sponded by say­ing he was ‘speech­less’.

Su was a Hindu and a man of gen­uine com­pas­sion. He did so much for peo­ple and for the com­mu­nity.

The Ro­tary Club Face­book page an­nounce­ment of his pass­ing re­ceived more than 500 ‘likes’, 252 tributes and 244 ‘shares’ – no other Ro­tary an­nounce­ment has gen­er­ated even one tenth of that amount of in­ter­est.

Su be­lieved that to die was to re­lease the spirit from the body – af­ter the body had ceased to work well. He was con­tent and set­tled in him­self. He be­lieved the time of death is a time of en­light­en­ment and ex­pressly wished that none of us be sad at his pass­ing but that we share his val­ues of help­ing one an­other.

A funeral ser­vice will be held to­day, Thurs­day Novem­ber 12, at 2pm at Dun­cans­burgh Mac­In­tosh Church. Fam­ily flow­ers only. A col­lec­tion for char­ity will be taken.

A pri­vate cre­ma­tion will be held af­ter­wards by in­vi­ta­tion only from Mrs Shirley Sen.

RE­SPECTED: many tributes have been paid to former GP

Dr Suku­mar Sen.

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