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Professor John Lennard-Jones, affectionately known by his colleagues as ‘LJ’, was an exceptional man; a caring and astute physician, a gentle but inspirational teacher and a prodigious clinical researcher. His clinical judgements were always well considered and invariably correct. He inspired supreme confidence in his patients and was an extraordinary role model for professional colleagues whose lives he touched.
Born in 1927 he was the son of John Edward Lennard-Jones, a professor of theoretical chemistry at Cambridge and Kathleen (née Lennard); the binomial was created by his father on their marriage to recognise the loss of Kathleen’s two brothers in WW1 and to continue the name. He attended King’s College Choir School, as a non-chorister, and Gresham’s School in Norfolk where latterly he studied mathematics, physics and chemistry. During his childhood and adolescence his main interest was the natural world; the birds and wild flowers that surrounded his semirural home in Cambridge and a diverse assembly of domestic animals for which he cared including geese, hens, ducks, rabbits, a ferret (Joey) and a goat. During postwar rationing he supplemented the family diet with his home-grown vegetables. He was destined to become a farmer but in 1946 at the age 19 he was called up to do National Service and was posted as an orderly to the Burns Unit, Birmingham. The human tragedies that he witnessed there changed his direction and he returned to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1948 aged 21 to study medicine. He had not wasted his time at the Burns Unit and in the following year he published two papers, one in the Lancet on the value of systemic penicillin …