Pioneering Morecambe GP dies aged 67

Gwen Herd.
Gwen Herd.

A doctor who spent her life caring for people, animals and nature with great knowledge, dedication and compassion has died aged 67.

Gwen Herd became the only female GP practising in Morecambe in 1986 and from the West End Medical Practice saw a great need for health care in the area.

Gweneth Herd was the daughter of Frank and Eleanor Herd at Hilderstone Farm, Burton-in-Kendal and was a pupil of Burton Morewood Primary School.

She excelled at Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale and started a five-year course in medicine at Manchester University in 1969.

Gwen qualified in 1974, starting a 30-year career of care, dedication and healing.

She began her clinical training at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) as junior house officer and then senior house officer, specialising in paediatrics.

In 1976 she started 
training as a GP, first at the Queen Square practice in Lancaster and then at Beaumont Hospital, Westmorland County Hospital and in the new special care baby unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Gwen married Chris Gartside in 1978 at Natland Church and they started their married life in Edinburgh, where Chris was working for the NatWest Bank.

After completing her training in Edinburgh she became a partner there with Dr Ann Rennie.

She then joined Drs Graham Orr, Martin Yule and Paul Townley at Morecambe’s West End practice in Marine Road West.

Gwen set about obtaining new premises, formerly the bus depot in Heysham Road, which opened in 1991.

She had a special interest in mental health and trained practice nurses to become nurse practitioners.

Throughout her career she maintained a deep interest in training young doctors and for many years was a GP trainer at the RLI.

However, her work was interrupted by ill-health, which led to her retirement from practice in 2004.

She set about a new career as a dairy farmer at the family farm at Burton until the dairy herd was sold in 2010.

Then, with her brother Ian, she developed a herd of beef animals.

She lived with her husband Chris in Carnforth.

Gwen was diagnosed with cancer in May.

She died on December 22 in St John’s Hospice in Lancaster.

Her funeral takes place at St Oswald’s Church, Warton on Wednesday January 4 at 1pm.