Timothy John O’Connor

Tim O’Connor was born in Sheffield in 1932,  the son of a GP and the eldest of five children. He  went to live with his grandparents in Cork along with his mother and the rest of the family when the war began. Towards the end of the war, the family returned to Sheffield when his father was demobbed and became the senior partner in the  Practice.

Tim was educated at Presentation Brothers College in Cork,  Stoneyhurst College and University College Cork, where he graduated in medicine in 1955. After qualifying he did his National Service with the Irish Guards in Cyprus and Windsor. He then joined his father’s practice in Parson Cross, where he became well acquainted with the health problems associated with poverty and working in heavy industry.

 The Norfolk Park Health Centre was set up in the 1970s  to address the medical needs of another of  the four most deprived areas in Sheffield.  Tim was one of the two founding partners, along with associated nursing and administrative staff. The Health Centre had a strong focus on the many occupational health issues associated with the major industries of the area: steel, coal mining and cutlery. On one occasion, after refusing a miner a sick note, Tim accepted the suggestion from the patient to actually visit a mine to see what it was like. Afterwards he said he never refused a miner a sick note again.

 One of Tim’s specialities was the vocational training of prospective GPs, He established a reputation for being an effective and insightful teacher who showed compassion and care for trainee and patient alike. He remained in contact and established firm friendships with many of his trainees, which lasted until his death.

 As a result of his experiences, he took a keen interest in medical politics. Despite being of a quiet demeanour and softly spoken, he acquired the reputation of being an outspoken critic of the Government’s White Paper on health, often referred to as a “thorn in the side” of minister Ken Clark.

 Tim served as Chairman of both the Sheffield Local Medical Committee and local BMA division as well as on the  General Medical Service Committee  for South Yorkshire. In 1995 he was elected as a Fellow of The BMA “in recognition of his outstanding service to The Association”. A colleague described Tim in his commendation as …held in the highest regard by local GPs and consultants, with never a critical word. His integrity is his greatest characteristic and is utterly reliable. In addition he is a very nice man “

 He retired in 1992 and moved to live in Bamford in the Peak District, becoming active in what was a wonderfully supportive community.

From 2013 he devoted most of his time to caring for Anne, his wife of 55 years, who died in 2018.

A keen angler and walker until his final year, At the age of 85 he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to walk the Camino de Santiago, travelling  some 120km in 7 days, with his brother. 

He remained independent and was well known and well loved within the wider Bamford Community and was active, physically and socially until shortly before his death.

He died peacefully, on April 14th, after a short illness, surrounded by his closest family.