Robert Douglas Sweet
Biography of Robert Douglas Sweet
We thank K. R. Hunter for submitting this biography of Douglas Sweet, written by H. M. Leather:
Douglas Sweet was a consultant dermatologist at the Plymouth and Torbay group of hospitals. He was born in Weybridge, Surrey, but went to school in New Zealand, at Wanganui. He returned to the UK to study at Cambridge and at St Thomas's hospital. He qualified in 1942 and served in the RAMC from 1944 to 1946. He was subsequently medical registrar and senior registrar of the skin department at St Thomas's Hospital. He was appointed consultant dermatologist at Plymouth in 1950, a post he held until his retirement in 1982. Sweet was a member of the Royal College of physicians from 1942 and a fellow from 1968.
His flair for dermatology was obvious to all and his opinion was widely respected not least because he saw the dermatological problem as part of the general medical process and the personality and background of the patient. He had an enquiring mind and was assiduous in searching for the cause of an unusual skin rash.
Sweet also had an infectious enthusiasm for his studies on rare diseases such as orf and when his important and original work on acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis was published in 1964 his colleagues were all delighted on his behalf. The condition became known as Sweet's syndrome and he was invited to talk on it at international meetings.
He regularly attended meetings of the dermatological section of the Royal Society of Medicine; he enjoyed teaching and was seconded for a year as consultant in charge of the skin department at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. He played a full part in the administration of the Plymouth hospitals, serving on the hospital medical executive for several years and as chairman of the hospital medical staffs committee from 1970 to 1973. He was subsequently a member of the Devon Area Health Authority.
Douglas Sweet had an engaging personality, a keen sense of humour and despite his hard work conveyed an almost dilettante approach which belied his deep commitment. He had many interests outside medicine, the foremost of these being horse riding and he was an enthusiastic member and subsequently chairman of the Spooners and West Dartmoor hunt. In his later years he took up moorland farming and conservation.
At his funeral at Tavistock parish church which was very fully attended, all his four children spoke both movingly and amusingly of their father. The service ended with a fine and rousing call on a hunting horn - a fitting end.