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Thursday, 18 November 2004
Page: 124

Mr JOHNSON (4:55 PM) —Some people walk in and out of our lives and leave little or no mark of any note, yet others whom we meet truly touch our hearts and minds and leave an impression that stays for all time. Simon Churchill Latham was one such man who walked into my life and touched my heart and mind. He has left an impression that I know will stay with me for all time. Simon Churchill Latham was born in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in England on 1 July 1930. He died in Brisbane on 20 October, 2004. My wife and I came to know Simon Latham. He was a man of great charm, integrity and warmth. He became an inspiration to me in the short five years that I knew him. We last saw Dr Latham on Monday, 11 October, just a few days after the election. He was delighted at the news of my re-election and asked me to do all that I could to make this country a better country.

He was renowned for his charm, elegance and warmth. He was at the same time held in universal esteem for his clinical skills and his relentless advocacy for the health, education and welfare of children. Simon Latham was a paediatrician, a man who cared about the health and lives of other people. He was a paediatrician in the most complete sense of that term: a champion for best practice clinical medicine, an advocate for underprivileged infants and children and a tireless proponent of preventative medicine.

He was the son of an engineer, Christopher Latham, and Beryl Latham of the extended Churchill family, from whom he inherited his middle name. He felt particularly close to his mother, who became a nurse in World War I and who was a supporter of the suffragette movement. At the time, she was of such standing that she was able to go and study history at Cambridge University, a place Simon Latham later attended. After completing his schooling at Charterhouse, Simon Latham enlisted and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers. He served as a second lieutenant in the 57 Field Engineers Regiment, based in Hong Kong during his two years of national service. Although still a very young man indeed, he commanded a troop of bridge-building sappers in mainland China.

After demobilisation in 1950, he enrolled in medicine at Cambridge University and graduated in both medicine and arts. He became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1963 and, after a year of training in respiratory medicine at Brompton Hospital in London, Simon Latham embarked on his life's work in paediatrics and the care of other people. In the face of considerable competition for training positions in two of the world's most highly ranked children's hospitals, he was appointed to the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street in London and subsequently as senior registrar in paediatrics at the Hammersmith Hospital in London.

In 1969, Simon Latham came to Australia, having been appointed senior lecturer at the Department of Child Health at the Brisbane Children's Hospital, later to become the Royal Children's Hospital. Dr Latham's particular interest lay in paediatric gastroenterology, metabolic disease and endocrinology. His contributions to both undergraduate and postgraduate paediatric teaching were exceptional. He was a professional colleague and friend of Professor John Pearn, one of this country's distinguished doctors, who later said of him that he was a man of natural compassion, empathy and warmth and someone who was an inspiration to all his students. His special contribution to Queensland medicine was that he was an innovator.

Dr Latham's interest in complete child care led inevitably to his advocacy for improved educational facilities for children with specific learning difficulties. The Glenleighden School is based in Fig Tree Pocket in my electorate of Ryan. It is in this context also that I developed a stronger friendship and association with Dr Latham and the cause which he was so passionate about.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 5.00 p.m., the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 5.00 p.m.