Dominic Stevens obituary

<span>Dominic Stevens, a GP in Bristol, daubed graffiti on the walls of local tobacco factories with anti-smoking slogans</span><span>Photograph: Dan Stevens</span>
Dominic Stevens, a GP in Bristol, daubed graffiti on the walls of local tobacco factories with anti-smoking slogansPhotograph: Dan Stevens

My father, Dominic Stevens, who has died aged 84, was a dedicated doctor with a sense of wanderlust and a kind heart.

For nearly two decades he practised as a GP in Bedminster, Bristol. General practice medicine fascinated him, and his particular interest lay in sexual health. He loathed smoking – he used stencils with messages such as “Players Slayers” and “Piccasilly way to die” to graffiti the walls of Bristol’s tobacco factories a stone’s throw from his surgery.

In 1986, after gaining a master’s degree in tropical medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he went for a period with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to Zambia, where he did his most challenging and rewarding work. That dream fulfilled, he returned in 1988 to general practice in Bolton.

My father’s earliest memory was travelling in wartime from Cairo, where he was born, on a troop carrier taking the then safer, long route home to Britain, through the Red Sea and around the Horn of Africa. His father, Charles “CP” Stevens, a doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps, had been posted to Egypt during the second world war, accompanied by his wife, Betty (nee Gordon), and Dominic was the eldest of their nine children. After the war, the family settled in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and “CP” spent some years on the London Metropolitan Hospital board helping set up NHS services.

After education at Beaumont college, Windsor, Dominic spent a year at a Jesuit seminary. He gave that up to train in medicine at Bristol University, where he met Annette Plowright at the university’s Catholic Society. They were married in 1962, going on to have four sons – Dan, Jamie, John and me – in quick succession, and to buy and renovate a big dilapidated Georgian house in the Hotwells district of the city. Wanting daughters too, they adopted Tessa and Emma. We were lucky to have a large garden that welcomed all the children of our neighbourhood.

My parents separated in the early 1980s, and Dominic had another son, Francis, with Katie Hudson. Shortly after, he took a hospital job overseas to save money to support his families.

In the late 1990s, my father moved from Bolton to Chiswick in west London. He married Debbie Brown in 2008. At the age of 70 he retired to travel widely. He was a great friend of the Hounslow Heath Green Gym conservation group, where his “weapon of choice” was a scythe, his 80th birthday gift, which he used effectively to keep brambles at bay.

My father died at home, in accordance with his intervention-free end-of-life plan. He told one of his grandsons that his own grandfather had on his deathbed advised Dominic “not to go by the silly notion of trying anything once, and certainly not to try sex”. It was advice he ignored.

He is survived by Debbie, his children, Debbie’s daughters, Hannah and Julia, 17 grandchildren, and by six of his siblings. Tessa died last year.