Dr Lynette Mary Dowsett

A remarkable director of the Norwich Public Health Laboratory for more than a quarter of a century played a vital role in fighting diseases. Dr Lynette Mary Dowsett, who has died peacefully aged 97, was a medical professional determined to do everything possible to help patients and also to work with doctors at every level.

A remarkable director of the Norwich Public Health Laboratory for more than a quarter of a century played a vital role in fighting diseases.

Dr Lynette Mary Dowsett, who has died peacefully aged 97, was a medical professional determined to do everything possible to help patients and also to work with doctors at every level.

Her appointment in 1948 as one of the first women to head a laboratory in what later became a national network of 54 centres was a tribute to her experience, skill and dedication.

Her skill and leadership was recognised by former colleagues, who were initially often intimidated by her ruthless professionalism.


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Dr Dowsett, who was the daughter

of a congregational minister, insisted on the very highest standards at

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all times because the lives of patients - the ultimate customers depended

on a thoroughly professional service.

She had a dry sense of humour and commanded great loyalty from her staff, earning the fond nickname of "Auntie".

Born in Havant, Hampshire, she later went to school in Edgbaston, Birmingham, before qualifying at

the Royal Free Hospital, London, in 1934.

She held a variety of posts in her early medical career in London and then worked at the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, before her appointment as assistant pathologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital until 1945.

She won a national reputation for

her research work into possible treatments to control tuberculosis and pioneering investigations into the importance of streptocci to prevent infections.

Dr Dowsett, who is survived by a nephew, never married, or learned to cook except scrambled eggs.

A devout Catholic, she retired aged 65 in 1974. She returned to live in her native Hampshire.

It was typical of her selfless enthusiasm that she then offered her services as a volunteer at Portsmouth Cathedral, where she helped for another quarter of a century.

Well into her 90s, she was a regular helper at St John the Evangelist, where a memorial mass will be held today at 12.15pm.

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