Bruce Storey 1927 - 2010

Bruce Storey

There are pranks, and there are pranks! Some are annoying, some funny, and some become legendary, as happened in 1948 when a group of Sydney University students took a bogus Olympic torch through the streets of Sydney. The Olympics were in London that year. But the students who did the run, including 21-year-old Bruce Storey - who was in his first year of medicine - looked and acted the part, and were so convincing that 60 years later a Sydney University magazine took it seriously and mistakenly portrayed it as the actual event. The prank was repeated by University of Sydney students in 1956.

The 1948 caper was not the end of Bruce Storey's physical feats by any means. Storey, who later became a leading paediatrician, pioneering a speciality in intensive care of the newborn, represented Sydney University for four years in rugby and played for Randwick, serving in his second year as vice-president of the Randwick club. Such sporting talent was partly in the genes. His father, Gilbert Norman Storey, captained Australia in soccer in 1923.

Gilbert Norman Bruce Storey was born in Drummoyne on November 16, 1927, the son of Gilbert Norman Storey, an accountant, and Kathrine (nee Larkin). At Balmain Public School he was so embarrassed at being the only child with shoes that he removed them as soon as he could. He did his secondary schooling at Randwick Boys High and at Sydney Grammar. There he shone at rugby, cricket, swimming, athletics and boxing. Storey wanted to join the navy and did not focus much on school work, and then the war ended. He had to return to Grammar in 1946 to get a ''matriculation pass''. He remained committed to Grammar and was later to be a trustee of the school for 16 years.

Bruce Storey fakes an Olympic torch relay in 1948

In 1947 Storey enrolled at Sydney University, entering Wesley College, to study medicine. He went straight into the University Rugby 1st XV but failed medicine 1 and had to do it again. Friends said that he was ''studying football and playing medicine''.

Storey continued as a most useful footballer, but got to grips with his studies. Graduating in 1954, he took positions at Marrickville District Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (RAHC) and Concord Repatriation General Hospital. He met a nurse at RAHC, Doreen Ann Procter, whom he married in 1954. A daughter, Felicity Ann, was born in 1959.

In 1961, with Felicity aged 18 months, the couple sailed for England where Storey did postgraduate studies at West London Hospital, Hammersmith, St Charles Hospital, Ladbroke Grove and the paediatrics department of Guy's Hospital. Storey played three rugby matches for Guy's before winter became too severe for the competition to continue. He also went to America in 1963 to join the paediatric house staff as a research fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, where he worked for three years.

Storey and his family returned to Sydney in 1967 to resume his career in paediatrics, focusing on the care of the newborn infant. He worked initially as senior tutor at the University of NSW, followed by appointments at Grosvenor Hospital and then Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Specialising in the study of jaundice in babies, he lectured on care of the newborn at Sydney University.

In 1970 Storey became staff specialist in paediatric neonatology at RPAH, where he was to spend the next 20 years and was to serve on the executive and as chairman of the hospital's medical board. An enthusiastic organiser of neonatal meetings at King George V Hospital on Saturday mornings, he also served four years as honorary secretary of the Australian Paediatric Association. He was invited to give lectures at country medical centres in NSW and many overseas venues, including Buenos Aires, Atlanta and Georgia, and conferences in China and Indonesia.

In 1990 Storey moved to the Children's Hospital at Westmead as director of physician training. In 1992 he started his studies for a master of philosophy degree.

Retiring in 1993 from clinical medicine, Storey pursued an interest he had already developed as honorary historian for the RAHC. He enrolled as a postgraduate student and studied the history and philosophy of medicine, in which he researched the study of paediatrics in NSW. Doreen died in 1996 and, as an antidote for grief and loneliness, Storey kept studying. He gained his master of philosophy degree in 1997.

In 2007, having been awarded a PhD by UNSW, he became an honorary lecturer on the history of medicine at Sydney University. In August last year, the Bruce Storey Memorial Library was opened at the King George V heritage building, to house his collection of medical books. Storey kept up an active sporting life, but was stricken with oesophageal cancer and died on June 12.

He is survived by his daughter, Felicity, and grandchildren Melanie and Timothy.

Malcolm Brown
By permission of the Sydney Morning Herald