Dr MacLeods of North Uist honoured at memorial

Dr John Gillies, Dr Jim Douglas and piper Norman Johnston next to the new memorial.

Dr John Gillies, Dr Jim Douglas and piper Norman Johnston next to the new memorial.

70 years of medical service to North Uist honoured

On Saturday 12th October, a service was held at the Carinish Church Hall to recognise nearly 70 years of continuous medical service from the MacLeod family.

Starting in 1932, providing house calls on horseback and by boat, husband and wife Drs Alexander and Julia MacLeod quickly became trusted members of the North Uist community.  Despite it’s remote and rural location however, the MacLeod family actively engaged in national and European research & innovation.

Latterly their son Dr John MacLeod inspired a whole generation of budding GPs through student electives and encouraging local school pupils to follow a career in medicine.  He also pioneered a number of innovative developments through carefully conducted and highly respected research.  One example of this was in legislating for all fishermen to be provided with lifejackets, after he detected the link between men falling overboard during the act of relieving themselves off the side of the boat!

The following speech was delivered by Dr John Gilles, chair of RCGP Scotland and former resident of the North Uist community.

Good afternoon! Thank you, Margaret, for inviting me to be here today.

Members of the MacLeod family, Mrs Margaret MacQuarrie and members of the Drs MacLeod Memorial Group, Mr Neil Galbraith, Chair of NHS Western Isles, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s clear from the numbers of people here today this beautiful afternoon that this is an important occasion for people in North Uist and the surrounding islands. I believe it is important to the community because this memorial that I am unveiling today will honour the skills, dedication and commitment to service of Dr Alex, Dr Julia and Dr John MacLeod over a period of 68 years from 1932 to 2000. It’s important to remember as well that GPs don’t work alone. We work with others in a team, and we also remember the skills and dedication of the district nurses, midwives, practice nurses, social workers and of course ministers—some of whom are here today– who worked closely with the Drs MacLeods over the decades, including of course Mrs Lorna Jean Macleod.

Many of you here today, and your families, will have benefited from these skills, that expertise, that dedication, that commitment.

I am here in both a personal and a professional capacity.

Personal because my family in North Uist—in Lochmaddy, Baleshare and places in between, benefited for three generations from that medical expertise.

I am here in a professional capacity as Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland because our college is proud and extremely happy to honour the memory of these doctors, two of them Fellows of the college, who exemplify the motto of RCGP—cum scientia caritas  –compassion with knowledge.

As someone who was brought into the world at 15 Kersavagh, Lochmaddy by Dr Alex MacLeod– as were my sister Christine here today and my late brother Donald—I am pleased and honoured to unveil this memorial to the Drs MacLeod today.

More information can be found on this website by searching for ‘MacLeod’ – including details of the memorial service for Dr John MacLeod held in 2010 following his sudden death in 2009 – as well as the following links to external articles.  If you can provide any further links, please do so by using the comments section below.

>> Daily Mail article about the memorial service

>> Tribute page on NHS Western Isles website

>> Article in The Herald (may require subscription)


  1. TV alert: Dr MacLeod of North Uist (tonight) | ruralgp.com - December 29, 2014

    […] RuralGP.com featured the work of Dr Alex – and subsequently his son John – in October 2013.  You can read the article here. […]