BRIAN Bullas, who has died aged 77, left school at 15, eventually qualified as a doctor and set up Sheffield’s first private clinic with his wife Valerie, also a doctor.
In May 2000, the Sheffield Wednesday Shareholders’ Association appointed Dr Bullas as chairman-in-waiting when it challenged the incumbent Wednesday board.
In order to support the existing board, Charterhouse, a major shareholder, had to change its preference shares into voting shares at a cost of £12m, the club being the beneficiary.
Dr Bullas was also involved in many other non-medical ventures including the running of a fluorspar mine, an IT company and a medical research laboratory.
His childhood in Sheffield during the war years was difficult and, after failing the 11-Plus, he left school at 15.
He started working at a local coal board laboratory and in the evenings continued his education at Chesterfield College, gaining O-levels and A-levels and a place at St George’s Medical School.
He was a keen footballer and was approached by a Sheffield United scout to play for United, but that was not to be.
His father Albert made it perfectly plain that the boy was a Wednesdayite, and that a medical career was preferable anyway.
At university, Dr Bullas continued to play the game and in the 1960s was in the winning teams of both the Hospital League Cup and the United Hospital Cup.
He also played for Sutton United and would have played in the FA Amateur Cup Final at Wembley if the FA had not banned him for accepting “boot” money as an amateur player – money much needed to fund his studies.
After medical school, he worked as an anaesthetist in Holland and Canada and when on leave in Sheffield to visit his parents, he met Valerie Lyons, also a doctor, and they married in 1970 after a brief courtship.
They settled in Sheffield and set up the Beechwood Private Clinic, the first private clinic in the city. Inevitably, there was strong political opposition, and initially the business struggled.
However, when potential clients – GPs and consultants – attended an open day, they saw an impressive number of patients in attendance.
Or so they thought: the “patients” were in fact family members, friends and staff, but the ruse worked and the venture began to thrive, the clinic eventually offering a wide range of surgery, including neuro and open heart surgery.
Dr Brian Bullas was responsible for the package deal concept which is now the industry standard.
Patients were able to avoid long NHS waiting lists if they were not insured as the prices were transparent and fixed.
Generous spirited, Dr Bullas had a sense of humour which took the tension out of long theatre sessions, enlivened board meetings and added a distinctive spark to social gatherings.
He kept fit by skiing, swimming, playing squash and golf. He bought new skis only this year.
Devoted to his family, he was proud to have been able to give his five sons educational opportunities he had lacked.
Dr Bullas is survived by Val, his wife of 43 years, their sons, Justin, Barnaby, Timothy, Dominic and Robin, and six grandchildren.