In Memoriam - Dr Noel John Blott


Tribute, on behalf of Dr Blott’s family, friends, colleagues and ‘his nurses’

Annelize Jacobs, OHNP, Kansai Paint, Port Elizabeth
Linda Joubert, OHNP, Bridgestone, Port Elizabeth

Dr Noel John Blott was a Life Member of The South African Society of Occupational Medicine (SASOM)

Dr Noel John Blott, 27 December 1950–4 April 2019

Noel was Port Elizabeth-born and -bred, the eldest of two sons. They were bright boys who excelled at school and both chose medicine as their profession. He spoke fondly of his mother, Barbara, and his adoptive dad, Jack, who supported Noel and encouraged him to be hard-working, honest and kind, and to excel in all his endeavours.

As a child, Noel had his own horse, Blaze. He played the guitar, piano and organ. His musical talent came, possibly, from his biological father, Alan, who was a musician. He learnt to fly gliders while in high school and, at the age of 16, received a 50 cc moped. He excelled in water skiing and obtained Eastern Cape Colours in this sport.

Noel attended Grey Boys School where he did well academically and had a keen interest in various sports, including athletics, tennis, squash and pole vaulting. He was small in stature until he was in Standard 8, when he literally grew about 12 inches, became more outgoing and confident, with an excellent sense of humour, and was the leading personality in his class at school.

Noel obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, and used to pop in at home for brief visits during the university holidays, always with a gorgeous new girlfriend. He often related stories of his waiting jobs and played the piano at Café Vienne for pocket money, as university students do. Whilst studying, he became an activist against the apartheid system, as he believed in equal education and opportunities for all.

He started his internship at Livingstone Hospital, which was known to interns as good ‘training ground’ for hard work and gaining experience in all disciplines of medicine, including surgery. He was particularly accomplished in orthopaedics. The doctors had their meals in the doctors’ quarters; it was there that his fellow interns would be entertained by Noel in his eloquent way. It was also around this time that ‘Bachelor Boy’ Noel acquired a black Jaguar E-type. They all watched in awe as Noel drove through the hospital gates in this majestic vehicle; it can be said that Noel did not mind the admiration. He loved his cars and owned a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce, which he kept in mint condition by getting his hands dirty and servicing the cars himself.

He served humanity with the utmost dedication, irrespective of race, creed or religious beliefs; this fostered a sense of ‘being one big happy family’ among the medical staff. As a general practitioner, he was well loved and respected. A patient and old friend recounted that he treated all patients with care and professionalism, which made everyone trust his abilities without question. He was a brilliant diagnostician, and there are so many people who would have had very different lives if it were not for Noel.

Noel’s occupational medicine career spanned three decades. His selfless nature saw him introducing other doctors to occupational medicine, as it was an ‘unknown entity’ at the time.

One of the occupational health nursing practitioners (OHNPs) who worked with him in the late 1980s described Noel as impartial and ethical. He always did what was right, irrespective of whether the decision favoured worker or management. He was able to make the correct call for treatment of his patients and provide advice regarding improved health for the workers. In his workplaces, he guided the processes of occupational health, human resources and labour relations. He had a special way of interacting with management and union members, and gained their utmost respect.

Noel was a valuable member of SASOM who actively participated at the meetings of the Eastern Cape Chapter. In January 2018, he was awarded ‘Life membership in recognition of long and valued service to the South African Medical Association’. He was always keen to impart his knowledge and his experience gained through consulting at various companies across different industries, such as battery, paint and tyre manufacturing, automotive parts, bottling, and food.

The OHNPs at the different companies were indeed privileged to have worked with such a respected and knowledgeable occupational medicine practitioner, who stood for excellence and never missed an opportunity to support, teach, and even tease his colleagues.

Noel married late and became a family man; he loved his stepdaughter Kim, who later qualified as a psychologist in the UK. He often shared photographs of his two stepsons, James and Mark, and videos of his three granddaughters, whom he loved dearly. In 2017, he was fortunate to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Janet, who loved and cared for him until his passing.

Although Noel had his own family, about whom he bragged constantly, as ‘his nurses’ we felt like his extended family. He would often give us fatherly advice about our relationships, our health, and our children and their education, and lifted our spirits when we needed it.

He would travel often between clinics, yet he still made time to give expert medical advice to friends, family, his nurses and ex-patients, whenever they called him at his factories.

Noel appreciated good food and bragged about making the best carpaccio for his lifelong friends. He entertained them by playing his baby grand piano, singing to their delight and, of course, sharing his sharp wit. He was fondly referred to by his nurses as ‘PE’s celebrity doc’!

He was a kind and gentle giant, who would often give to the needy; he served humanity with wisdom, love and compassion.
Noel, we are grateful for having known your kindness, generosity and humour; you are tremendously missed. Rest in peace, our special ‘Dokkie’. 


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