18 Nov 1921 – 6 Apr 2013
What insitutions did she attend?
- Crochu RC School, Grenada
- St Joseph’s Convent, Grenada
- Bishop Anstey High School, Trinidad
- Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine (now Royal Free and University College Medical School)- Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
She was an honoured member of a number of organisations, including The Caribbean College of Family Physicians, The John Hayes Memorial Kidney Foundation, and The Caribbean Women’s Health Association.
She was also a writer! She wrote poems, short stories, essays and vignettes. Her book, I Woke at Dawn, was published in 1996.
Caribbean Women in STI
Dame Hilda Bynoe is a distinguished and pioneering Caribbean woman who contributed in many ways to the region’s development through her work in education, medicine and government. Renowned for her dedication and public service, she was instrumental in developing the School of Arts and Sciences at St George’s University in Grenada when it was just a medical school. She was also the first female physician to practise in the interior of Guyana, the first national of Grenada to serve as Governor of that country (1968 to 1974), and the first female to hold this position in the British Commonwealth.
During the Second World War, when many Caribbean nationals were unsure about what the future held for them, she chose to study medicine, which had been her dream since childhood. This dream became a reality when she received a Colonial Development and Welfare Scholarship to Britain in 1944.
In her second year of medical school, she met and married Peter Bynoe, a Trinidadian who was a Royal Air Force officer and a student of architecture. In 1953, she returned to the West Indies with her husband and two sons, and served as a general practitioner. She worked first in Trinidad, then Guyana, then back to Trinidad, until she was appointed Governor of the Associated States of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in 1968. Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1969, and she carried out the duties of office until she returned to Trinidad to resume her medical practice and community service in 1974.
One of the few female general practitioners in the Caribbean at the time, she made a significant contribution to the promotion of primary healthcare. In Guyana, she was known as the ‘Lady Health Officer’, as she and her team would visit antenatal clinics for pregnant women in rural areas, to determine for example, when they were due to deliver, and if a district delivery was possible, or if they needed to go to the hospital. Her private practice in Trinidad placed special emphasis on psychosomatic illnesses. Even while she ran her private practice, she served as the District Medical Officer for Diego Martin. This involved offering primary healthcare for the many residents in the areas of Diego Martin, Maraval, St James and Carenage. Possessing a truly caring spirit, she also volunteered with a home for convalescent children in Diego Martin.
Hilda Louisa Bynoe (née Gibbs) was born on 18th November, 1921 in the village of Crochu, Grenada. Hilda learnt the importance of education early in life as her father was the headmaster of her primary school where her mother, aunts and sister had also been teachers. She came to Trinidad after secondary school and taught mathematics and history for a brief spell at St Joseph’s Convent in San Fernando, Trinidad. She then enrolled at Bishop Anstey High School, Trinidad as a parttime student in order to study the subjects she needed to pursue studies in medicine later on. These subjects included physics, which was not taught at the secondary school level in Grenada. Interestingly, on her return to Grenada not long after this, physics was the very subject that she went on to teach at her alma mater, St Joseph’s Convent, Grenada.
Dame Bynoe encourages young persons to go out and make the best of their future, affirming that, “Your legacy could be a world which you have helped to shape.”
She passed away on April 6th, 2013 at the age of 91.
What is a general practitioner?
A general practitioner (GP) is a medical doctor who provides primary and preventative care to patients. These doctors are also called family physicians since they can provide basic care to all members of a family. GPs treat a wide range of conditions and are skilled in diagnosing diseases in the early stages of development. They refer patients with serious diseases to specialists for further testing or treatment. They also play an important role in educating patients about their conditions and the treatments and/or lifestyle changes they need.
Areas of Specialisation
- Public health
- Primary care
- Family medicine
What do I need to study?
At CSEC and CAPE: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics
An undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) takes between four to six years. Then, at least three years’ training is required, along with passing certification and licensing examinations.
What skills and traits do I need?
- Compassion and understanding
- Dedication to helping people
- Good listening and communication skills
- Good problem-solving skills
Famous General Practitioners
- John Jagger Pickles
- Francisco Vallés
- Juan Gérvas
- Julian Tudor Hart