TRIBUTE TO DR. DEREK GILLEN
at the SCOTTISH SOCIETY OF GASTROENTEROLOGY; FRIDAY 10th MAY, 2013
by Professor Kenneth McColl
I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Derek and working closely with him for the past twenty years. He was my Research Fellow, Medical Registrar, Consultant colleague and, most importantly, friend.
Derek was a truly big man with an encyclopedic brain. He knew everything and yet never flaunted his knowledge. He also had a meticulous manner in everything he did. This combination of great knowledge and meticulous nature made him unique and invaluable. Derek also had big hands and was regarded by all his colleagues as the safest pair of hands they had ever known.
It was always immensely reassuring to have Derek doing his clinic next to mine. The sound of his characteristic cough coming across the corridor always made me feel that bit more secure, knowing that there was someone nearby who would be able and willing to help. He was always fully abreast of new developments and treatments and an invaluable source of CME (Continuing Medical Education). I would frequently ask Derek for his help and advice. He would always reply politely and respectfully by saying “As I’m sure you know…” The fact is, that I usually did not know but was always much wiser after speaking to him.
Derek is going to be sorely missed by so many of us here and by so many more not here. His advice and wisdom was recognized and sought not only locally, but by medical colleagues and scientists nationally and internationally. His research publications, knowledge and incisive mind made him a huge asset for reviewing scientific papers and grant applications.
He was not just a giant; he was a gentle giant; big, strong and gentle.
Derek taught us all so much when he was with us. Yet, even in his parting, he is still teaching us – teaching us to appreciate one another more while we can.
As a truly big man, he is leaving a truly big hole that will be impossible to fill. However, his influence lives on in each one of us who had the privilege to know him.
Derek, we remember you, we thank you, we salute you.