Winston Churchill’s Illnesses: Courage, Resilience and Determination – Professor Allister Vale – 13 April 2022

What can members of the Lunar Society learn from Churchill’s response to serious illness?

Allister Vale and John Scadding have published the first definitive account of Churchill’s illnesses ( in 2020. ISBN 978 1 52678 949 5

Allister gave a classical presentation to the Lunar Society on the 13 April 2022 where he illustrated his major points that despite recurrent and serious illness Churchill’s courage, resilience, sense of duty and determination to serve his country resulted in , at times, a remarkable recovery from serious illness, which could be partly verified through the recovery of his appetite and the careful use of brandy and whisky.

Their most important conclusion following extensive research was that he did not suffer from clinical depression, (his black dog) was not bipolar and was not an alcoholic and was incredibly careful to monitor his own intake.

Lord Moran has published 2 books on his very long service to Churchill – 1940-1965 – when Churchill was aged of 90. Moran (“Corkscrew Charlie”), had also been PRCP 1941-50.

The talk included a list of Churchill’s many illnesses including pneumonia, initially as a youngster in 1886, with 5 episodes as an adult. The case report describing the profoundly serious episode, with short bursts of atrial fibrillation, in Carthage in December 1947, which involved multiple eminent physicians and the import of equipment, and an early use of sulphadiazine – an antibiotic and digitalis procured locally. Despite the need for a prolonged convalescence in Marrakesh he was able to participate successfully in negotiations with President Roosevelt, Stalin and Eisenhower and enjoy Christmas refreshments and a cocktail party while doing so.

Despite the most serious multiple (at least 7) stroke episodes he was able to perform at the highest level, as well has other illnesses, including multiple fractures, other surgery and other episodes of vascular disease. Churchill remains the greatest stateman of his time whose courage, resilience and determination led to victory in the 2nd world war, as well as remarkable oratory and humour outstanding writings and significant artworks.

I also have to thank his team for raising funds post-mortem which allowed my wife Rosie and I to complete Churchill traveling fellowships, which are awarded annually and are open to competition to any adult citizen in the UK and Commonwealth.

I am a great fan of Pol Roger his favourite champagne.

PPM 9.6.2022