Lykle Hogerzeil

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A DOCTOR, who was honoured by the Dutch royal family for a lifetime's work for the poor and deprived, including running leprosy missions in Nigeria and India, has died at the age of 83 at his home in Ripon where he settled in retirement.

Lykle Hogerzeil grew up in an idyllic setting overlooking the River Rhine at Oosterbeek near Arnhem, but his parents divorced when he was seven and he was only 13 when the Germans invaded Holland.

There followed five tough years of German occupation during which his mother and sister, Johanna, sheltered four Jewish families. The Hogerzeils had an illicit radio and listened to coded messages from Britain which they passed to the Resistance. Near the end of the war, they had to go into hiding to avoid being arrested by the Germans. During the Battle of Arnhem, their family home, Bergoord, was destroyed by "friendly fire" from the Allies – leaving them with nothing.

Dr Hogerzeil gained a scholarship to study law after the war, but changed to medicine half way through his degree course. Between 1955 and 1963 he was a missionary doctor in eastern Nigeria.

After working in leprosy hospitals at Itu and Uburu, he became medical superintendent of Uzuakoli Leprosy Settlement, which had a research unit attached to its hospital. In 1962 Dr Hogerzeil and Dr Stanley Browne, published the first report on the use of Clofazimine, which soon became adopted by the World Health Organisation as a leading drug in leprosy control.

Dr Hogerzeil returned to the Netherlands and spent four years at the University of Utrecht carrying out research into dermatology and gained a medical doctorate in 1971. His first wife Connie van Hoogstraten, whom he had married in 1967, died after three years.

Between 1971 and 1985 Dr Hogerzeil worked as a doctor and director for The Leprosy Mission in the Victoria Hospital at Dichpali in Hyderabad, India, where he met and married his second wife, Elizabeth, whom he always called Liz. They were married for over 32 years.

In 1985 Dr Hogerzeil was appointed South East Asia regional director of The Leprosy Mission, which is an international Christian development organisation. He and his English wife lived in Singapore until 1990 when they retired to live in Ripon.

One of Dr Hogerzeil's best kept secrets was the fact that he was awarded the Knighthood of the Dutch Royal Household for his lifetime's work for the poor and deprived.

Although he developed Alzheimer's disease, Dr Hogerzeil, who loved being part of the life of Ripon, continued to attend the daily Matins service at the Cathedral and enjoyed walks across the Market Square until he suffered a stroke in December, 2008.

Since then he had been looked after at home by his wife, friends and carers.