Dr Alan Binnie

Dr Binnie
Dr Binnie

Dr George Alan Christie Binnie was the last single-handed GP to serve the community of Norham before his retirement in 1989.

A remarkable man with enormous energy and a huge variety of interests and talents, he was interested in everything and everyone.

Northumbrian through and through, he was born in 1929, where he attended king Edward Vl Grammar School in Morpeth. There he excelled academically, particularly in the sciences, winning the class prize in chemistry.

Edinburgh was the next stop, where he studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, the last intake into that establishment, graduating in 1951.

His first post was as a houseman in Darlington. Thereafter, his two-year national service tour of duty in the Royal Army medical Corps took him to Malaya and to Darjeeling in Northern India. It was here in Darjeeling in 1954 that he met his devoted wife of 55 years, Brenda.

On his return to the UK, Alan took up a medical post at Bangour Hospital. From there Alan’s general practice training was undertaken in the Perthshire Village of Aberfeldy. Upon completing his training, a move south to Claycross in Derbyshire followed where he worked as a GP for seven years.

Alan made his final professional move back to his home county of Northumberland in 1964, taking over Norham medical practice. The surgery was attached to the family home.

In addition to his GP duties, Alan was a well-known face as part of the rota system for accident and emergency at Berwick Infirmary. Latterly, Alan also acted as a clinical assistant to the consultant ophthalmologist at the hospital on a regular basis.

Above all, Alan loved the freedom of his work as a GP in rural Northumberland and Berwickshire, where he was recognised and respected by all his patients and the wider community.

A traditional family doctor, who took a genuine interest in all his patients, he was effectively on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Throughout his career, Alan sought to encourage the next generation of medical talent by taking on GP trainees.

He penned many articles for the British Medical Journal and other medical publications and helped to edit the book ‘In England Now’, a compilation of correspondence in The Lancet.

He also published three books on the churches and graveyards of the Berwickshire, Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, thereby committing his encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject to print for posterity.

Many of Alan’s interests were centred on the local community. He was a member of the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club, where he was president and then librarian for may years.

He was a founding member of the Norham History Society and a governor of Norham County Primary School. Alan also served terms as a local councillor in both Norham and Berwick. In addition to being a member of NADFAS, Alan served on the board of Lebanon, latterly Northumbria, bible College and the Berwick Arts Society where he sang base.

Having been brought up in the shadow of the Cheviot, a love of the hills had been instilled, which culminated in completing the Munros. Northumberland was the perfect setting in which Alan could pursue his love of bird watching, for years volunteering for an RSPB survey. He enjoyed shooting and was part of a local syndicate.

Underpinning Alan’s life was his strong Christian faith. Undoubtedly, his faith shaped his defining characteristics of fairness and equality and the way he valued people for who they were.

Alan, with his calm temperament, wise counsel and wry sense of humour will be missed hugely by his wife Brenda, his three daughters, Susan, Mary and Alison and his seven grandchildren – and indeed by the wider local community.