SURGEON Vice-Admiral Anthony Revell’s unstinting support of Winchester Cathedral spanned decades.

A longstanding love of choral music blossomed over time into a plethora of roles such as sidesman, Pilgrims’ School governor, chairman of the Winchester Festival and trustee of the Hampshire International Singing Competition.

Given his 6ft 7in frame, Revell was easy to spot at services and concerts after which conversations - often conducted in the Wykeham Arms - were habitually punctuated by his warm, deep laugh.

A generous, jovial man, his innate modesty meant he referred to himself as “Dr Revell” for his cathedral duties.

Even some close Winchester friends were unaware of his many significant achievements during a 37-year naval career until after his death at the end of last month.

Revell in fact rose to the pinnacle of his chosen field, serving as Surgeon-General to the Armed Forces between 1994 and 1997.

This was a time of huge upheaval for Britain’s military medical services.

But Revell applied his acute intellect and calm logic to the politically-sensitive issues of saving Royal Hospital Haslar from closure and the first wave of claims from personnel suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

He would have been knighted but for then Prime Minister John Major temporarily suspending the usual elevation for all three star senior officers because of the upcoming general election.

Anthony Leslie Revell was born in Wimbledon in 1935. A strong dislike of the school cadet corps led him to vow never to enter the military.

However he joined the Royal Navy in 1960 on qualifying as a doctor when a period of compulsory service was re-introduced.

His first ship was frigate HMS Troubridge and, while deployed in the West Indies, crew members were extras for the James Bond film Dr No.

When bikini-clad Ursula Andress decided her hips needed that extra something for the scene in which she walked from the sea, Revell gave her a naval white webbing belt - and later recalled her as “very, very attractive”.

Encounters with film stars aside, Revell relished life as a ship’s medical officer - dubbed a “scab lifter” - and, at the end of three years, decided to remain in the Senior Service.

He specialised as an anaesthetist and, being too tall for off-the-shelf blue theatre dress, wore bespoke scrubs made from the only available material, which happened to be bright green.

Unsurprisingly, he gained the nickname of “Jolly Green Giant”.

A shrewd clinician, Revell, who was single, powered up the ranks to become head of the naval medical services in 1993.

He was also honorary surgeon to the Queen between 1989 and 1997, poised to scoop up any guests taken ill at royal receptions. On his retirement, Revell moved to Winchester, where he devoted himself to his cathedral work.

“He was honorary tour doctor for the cathedral choir, advising and nurturing all involved.” said musician Alice Hill. “I recall a tour to the Channel Islands and before setting sail from Guernsey to Sark on very rough seas, he boarded the boat and jokily reminded us to put our cameras away so as not to photograph an admiral being sea sick.”

  • Surgeon Vice-Admiral Anthony Leslie Revell CB CStJ, Surgeon-General to the Armed Forces, was born on April 26, 1935. He died of cancer on December 30, 2018, aged 83.