Local Face: Dr Colin Riley

Dr Colin Riley has been in and around Wendover for forty years during which time we have all benefited from his influence. As a young medical student, he was exempt from National Service until qualified so it was 1954 when he came to do his 3 year RAF stint as obstetrician at the Princess Mary Hospital, Halton.

He then moved to Princes Risborough to undertake a year of GP training, a novel concept brought in by the still relatively new NHS. He was invited to join the partnership in Wendover and so he moved his family into a cottage in Coldharbour in January 1959. When his partners retired in 1964 the ever expanding Riley family moved into Dr Orme’s house and surgery.

The Red House, Aylesbury Road. Dr McConnell retired and left his surgery in Paradise House, Hale Road. Dr Riley’s new partner, Dr Tony Garrod, moved into Coldharbour then Dr Brian Ballantine joined the practice and worked at the Red House Surgery.

At about this time, the County Council was already looking for extra car parking space in Wendover. They thought the trees and grass on the part of the Manor Waste outside The Red House looked ideal for a layby. Colin Riley did not agree so he contacted the County Councillor, Col Leonard Tetley and ex-County Treasurer Mr Serby and, with others, “The Wendover Society” was born. Their main impulse has been to ensure that Wendover stays as a viable community. At the moment it has one main shopping centre, one education centre and hopefully will have one centre for light industry.

Since 1973, Wendover has had one Health Centre. Once again, it was Colin Riley who was in the forefront of a national trend to gather local Health Professionals under one roof so that they could together offer better primary care to the community. It was one of the first in Buckinghamshire and Wendover had an ideal population to administer from one location. Having established the principle, Colin Riley then had a struggle to ensure that each doctor had a personally assigned consulting room. The nurses and midwives also needed their own treatment rooms. The Health Visitors, although County Staff,were also to use this base. There was even room for a chiropodist but the request for A4 filing space was turned down in 1973. As the years passed, there were regular expansions as primary health care developed. Colin Riley led by example and ensured that he and his partners always kept up to date with courses and ideas including job-sharing women partners, visiting medical students, now full OP trainees and a married woman re-trainee. Way back in the ’60’s, before the Health Centre was set up, anyone who wanted to thank the doctors and nurses for their care was pointed in the direction of the Patient Comforts Fund. Wendover has been very generous supplying equipment patients can use in their own homes such as nebulisers, ripple beds and equipment for use in the home as well as modern technological instruments for use in the surgery.

Colin Riley sees the next great innovations in primary health care involving patient education using all the information technology which has become available. The next step for the Health Centre is developing into the former Fire Station site. Clearly, this is the right moment to step down and let those who will be practising in the 21st Century make the preparations for it.

This time, the doctor will not be moving out of The Red House on retirement. Although their six children no longer live in Wendover they continually return and bring grandchildren. His wife Diana, a consultant psychiatrist, will also retire soon. Their children have travelled the world so now the parents have decided to follow in their footsteps. Colin will also be seen indulging in his hobbies, DIY, sailing and flying.