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The Particular: Dr. Lister’s story

Episode 7 of ‘The Particular‘ features the story of Dr. David Lister.


Dr. Lister will be well known to many people locally in Yateley, having been a GP in the town for 25 years, but has now been retired for 14 years.

He takes the opportunity to share experiences which span at least three continents, having previously spent time after university in southern Africa (where he once had breakfast with a young Robert Mugabe!); having been a medical missionary in India; and worked as surgeon in Sweden and Denmark, before returning to the UK to become a GP in the 1980s.


An over-riding thread to emerge from Dr. Lister’s reflections are his concern for everyone to be able recognise what love really is, and to be able to find it!

“When you are in love, things get transformed. And this is one of the main guiding lights of my life, that you have to be in love, and you can sort of cultivate this way of looking at life…..” he enthuses. “If you are in love, everything can be lovely.”

Always religious, he reflects on how many of his actions earlier in his life were often based on a sense of what he ‘ought’ to do, rather than through conviction – and looking back on over 70 years of life experience, he takes in time as a young child at boarding school; a student at Cambridge University; a young man helping out at a boys club in Bermondsey, South London (by about 1957); time spent at a mission station in Harare in what is now Zimbabwe after having worked in a goldmine outside Johannesburg as what he called a ‘medical dogsbody’; and a life-changing, short romantic interlude in Paris, which didn’t quite end as he’d hoped, but left it’s mark on him to this very day.

Next stop was work in India, after pondering what to do next, when the experience in Paris knocked him for six.

“I was still thinking missionary work, and I met an Indian chap who said he could get me a job in India in return for accompanying him to drive a jeep.  You had these jeeps [Austin Champs] they had Rolls Royce engines and military bodies. The engines were so good that the bodies fell apart before the engine did. They were very reliable.”

It worked, because he ended up working at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, in India.  As well as sharing the particular aspects of life here, Dr. Lister also shares vivid insights of life as a missionary doctor in the Eastern Ghats area of India too.

After meeting his wife, he went on to work as a surgeon in Denmark, where she was from.   After four years, the couple returned to India to complete a hospital project.

After a stint in Sweden, and his return to the UK, David Lister shares how he was lucky enough to eventually be able to start his own practice in Yateley in the early 1980s, where the local Family Practitioner Committee deemed that the mushrooming population merited a new practice.  From humble premises, upstairs in Heath Cottage on the Reading Road (in what what was then a dental practice run by George Hilder), the practice grew, before expanding into what has now become the Monteagle Surgery, next to Waitrose.

David’s story paints a vivid picture, full of particular insights of life as missionary doctor, and reflections on the meaning of a life.  Thank you to him for taking the time to share his story with us!


 David is now a member of the committee organising the festival to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Kingsley, which will be in June 2019.  From 1844, Kingsley was rector of Eversley, in Hampshire, and was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard when he died in 1875.  More details, click here.


Credit: Thank you to The Kingsley at Eversley for allowing us to conduct this recording within their hotel, which is based at the house originally built for Charles Kinglsey’s daughter rose.

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