Elizabeth Lloyd 1932-2009

When patients came to see Dr Elizabeth Lloyd they knew to bring a packed lunch for the waiting room. Lloyd was of the era when GPs did everything, and it could be a while before she got to a patient, but she never left anyone untreated.

Routine surgery consulting would often extend to 3am. She also made regular home visits, and she always gave patients her undivided attention, no matter the circumstances.

Elizabeth Vera Hopkins, who has died aged 76, was born in Mosman, the only child of Ernest Hopkins, a bank manager, and his wife Hester Carruthers. Ernest died of renal failure when Elizabeth was two. She started school at Kincoppal and stayed with her aunt, Vera, who had a flat nearby.

When the Japanese attacked Sydney in May 1942, Elizabeth, aged 10, was put on a train by herself to return to her mother in Bowral. Even though her next school, the Rift, was only up the road, she asked to board, an early indicator of her independent spirit.

She returned to Sacre Coeur college in Rose Bay and started medicine at the University of Sydney in 1950 on a Commonwealth scholarship.

She was one of only 14 female medical students in a class of 77 (that included the later Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir).

Lloyd graduated in 1956, then did a residency at St George Hospital. Motorcycle accidents, in the pre-helmet era, made a terrible impression on her. To the day she died, Lloyd said she still felt palpitations whenever she heard an ambulance siren.

In 1955 she had married Phillip Lloyd, a barrister. He was a Korean War veteran and had a promising career, but suffered from paranoid schizophrenia complicated by post-traumatic stress disorder. Often Elizabeth bore the brunt of his demons, something she was reluctant to speak about.

In 1959 Lloyd bought a practice with residence at Enmore, where she worked for 16 years. In 1961 she also bought "The Farm" at Otford, as an escape from the city, but she could not resist starting a Saturday morning surgery there as well.

In 1967 Lloyd and her sons moved to Petersham and she developed her main practice there. In the early 1970s her marriage broke down. She married Dennis Mahony in 1973, but that marriage did not last either.

As well as raising her six children, Lloyd continued to practise medicine full-time. She was also a member of Marrickville Council and president of the general practice section of the Australian Medical Association's NSW branch.

Lloyd was determined that her boys would remain as fit as possible, so they became part of the NSW Amateur Swimming Association and Lloyd took on the role of medical officer at meetings. In 2000 she received the Australian Sports Medal for medical services to the association.

Lloyd continued to practise into the late 1990s, when she observed that her memory was intermittently failing. She knew before others when the time had come to put down her medical instruments, and she retired in December 1996. She threw a party and moved to a property in Helensburgh.

Lloyd, with her good friend and later carer, Cathy Quain, put her energy into restoring and extending her Federation home there.

Lloyd was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, but she continued to enjoy things of beauty - the arts, music, a polished burl from a very old tree, horses, feeding birds, expensive jewellery, a well-dressed man and good poetry.

Elizabeth Lloyd is survived by her six children, four grandchildren and Cathy Quain. Phillip Lloyd died in 2003.

Anne Fawcett
By permission of the Sydney Morning Herald