Dr John Denford was born in Dunedin New Zealand and trained in Medicine there. In his General practice, he developed a knack for working with the mentally ill.
He was encouraged to travel to the UK where he could work as a registrar and train as a psychoanalyst. With his wife and three young children, they travelled to London in one of the many ocean liners that returned from carrying the British to a new life.
After completing the training at the British Psychoanalytic Society, the family returned home. They were surprised that it was difficult to settle and after a while returned to England. His paper “Going Away” (2004)* reflects on the issues of people and their connectedness to places.
John worked in the NHS for the greater part of his career, at Shenley Hospital and The Cassel Hospital where he succeeded Dr Tom Main as Medical Director. He was influential in the training of psychiatrists nurses and social workers. John was Medical Coordinator at the Medical Foundation for the care of Torture Victims before retiring and becoming a Trustee and one of the founding members of the Refugee Therapy Centre.
I first met John in the early eighties when I was training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. He was one of the warmest and most encouraging clinical teachers and I was pleased that he agreed when I asked him if he would be my supervisor. His thoughtfulness and wisdom was much appreciated at the board of trustee meetings at The Refugee Therapy Centre. He is greatly missed.
Lennox K. Thomas
*2004 Denford J. Going Away, Self & Society, Vol. 32, No, 5