Robert Elkeles (OH 1955) - Integrity
Robert Elkeles’s family arrived in Britain as refugees from Germany and from very early on, his father, who was also a Doctor, was determined that Robert should succeed at school. Robert remembers his first day arriving at The Junior School and being left at the gate by his mother .
The school was extremely competitive in those days and every week, the boys and parents would assemble in the main hall where the Headmaster, Gerard Wathen would read out the marks of each pupil and their position in the class. It was a nerve-racking time for Robert who was always vying for position with a fellow contemporary called Anthony Fine. He remembers the fiercely competitive spirit also shown by the parents who attended.
Robert particularly excelled at Latin and Greek thanks to the wonderful teaching of Denzil Packard. From Highgate School he was offered a place at Balliol College Oxford to study Classics. At the last minute, however, he had a change of heart and instead took up a scholarship to study medicine, qualifying as a doctor at the age of 22.
Throughout his career, he has worked and lectured in some of the foremost hospitals in the country eventually becoming a Consultant Physician in Diabetes and General Medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital London where he built up an outstanding department and worked tirelessly to secure the funding for research projects. He has always been committed to the National Health Service and during the 1980’s he became a prominent campaigner for funding in the NHS something he continues to this day - mostly via the letters page of The Times newspaper.
Professor Elkeles is now officially retired although he continues to serve as board member on an NHS clinical commissioning group. He also a trustee for St Luke’s Hospice in Harrow.
Some of his key achievements include:
- Two important research studies in to the relationship between diabetes and heart disease.
- His appointment to the Chair of Diabetic Medicine at Imperial College. London
- Being recognised and awarded two plaques by the colleagues and staff recognising his contribution to the Diabetes and Endocrine Unit at St Mary’s Hospital
Robert has stayed in touch with the school and returned to celebrate the 125th Anniversary with some of his contemporaries. The Hall school taught him to work hard and he has continued to do so throughout his life but these days he balances this with time for his family and music. He took up the cello aged 59 and he now plays in several amateur groups.
His regret from school days is that he didn’t take part in the many other activities that were on offer particularly the music. He was delighted to know that there are currently 44 music groups within the school and his advice to our current pupils is to make the very most of the opportunities for extra curricular activities that are on offer.