AFTER 36 years in medicine Dr Andrew Lennard-Jones is calling it a day.

A familiar face at the Creffield Medical Centre, in Cavalry Road, Colchester, he has treated thousands of patients during his career.

Dr Lennard-Jones will mark his 60th birthday the day he retires.

But despite having served for more than three decades in medicine he didn’t set out to be a doctor.

Dr Lennard-Jones originally got an engineering qualification.

But after becoming a porter at a hospital in London, he decided a change of career was in order.

“I would be walking round the wards thinking medicine looked like a good idea,” he said.

“I reapplied to university to study medicine and qualified in 1984.”

GP training followed but before starting work in the UK Dr Lennard-Jones and his wife Lynn travelled to Uganda.

They arrived in 1989 and worked in a hospital in the Mountains of the Moon.

He said: “We were there for more than two years and I was the medical superintendent.

“As I was the only doctor I dealt with whatever came in.

“I did an awful lot of surgery in that time. We were the only hospital for quite a few hours.”

Whilst there Dr Lennard-Jones also started up an Aids programme.

But the couple’s time in Uganda nearly ended in disaster when they travelled to the northern part of the country.

Whilst driving through a safari park the Land Rover they were in hit a rock and rolled over.

Dr Lennard-Jones was left with a large gash on his head and to this day he still does not have feeling around the injury site.

“We were in the middle of a safari park with lions,” he said.

“Lynn had to bandage my head up with a turban and some sellotape.”

Another vehicle came to their aid and they were able to continue their 48 hour journey home.

It was a week before Dr Lennard-Jones had his head stitched up.

After returning to the UK in 1991 he took up a GP post in Leighton Buzzard.

The family decided they wanted to be closer to relatives and the sea and moved to Colchester in 1998.

Dr Lennard-Jones joined the Creffield Medical Centre, where he has worked ever since.

Now a practice partner he will bid farewell to the surgery later this week.

During his 22 years in Colchester he has helped train up new GPs, carry out appraisals and has helped to merge three doctor’s surgeries.

Dr Lennard-Jones, a father of three, says he loves general practice for the continuity and his colleagues.

“A lot of patients you get to see for many years,” he said.

“I remember one girl came to the surgery and I could remember her being born.

“She was 20 and I remembered her mum being pregnant.”

The NHS has changed a lot in the time Dr Lennard-Jones has been a GP but no more so than in the last few months.

When the pandemic hit GPs up and down the country had to turn to phone and video calls to help their patients.

“It has been difficult for everybody,” he said. “We had to make sure we kept seeing the patients who needed us.

“We had to keep patients and staff safe.

“It has shown how much we can do with just phone and video calls.”

And despite the added pressure of a pandemic, Dr Lennard-Jones said it was good to see the NHS being appreciated.

He said: “I don’t think the NHS has always had the popular press.

“It was very touching. On the very first clap we went outside and I was very moved by it all.”

While Dr Lennard-Jones is retiring from the Creffield Road Practice he will still be keeping his toes dipped in the NHS world.

He will continue his work with the General Practice Primary Choice team and keep up with GP appraisals.

In his spare time he hopes to enjoy his love of sport with plans for cycling, walking and sailing on the cards.

He said: “I think I am going to miss the feeling of doing something useful.

“People say your time fills up very quickly.

“In a year’s time I’ll decide if I want to get involved again.”