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Tributes paid to devoted chest doctor

MANY tributes have been paid to Dr Arnold Bentley, a long-serving Kent chest consultant, who became a lifeline to stricken ex-service men and women.

Dr Bentley, who has died at the age of 79, treated hundreds of tuberculosis (TB) sufferers at the Royal British Legion Village at Aylesfor, near Maidstone, in a medical career that spanned almost 40 years.

He was appointed a junior doctor at Preston Hall Hospital, Aylesford, shortly after the Second World War, and soon became a consultant, treating TB sufferers. In the early post-war years, treatment of TB was limited and patients would be confined to hospital for months on end.

Eventually they would recover enough to live in the nearby British Legion village where help was at hand and work was available for people still blighted by disability.

The introduction of penicillin in the 1950s was an important landmark in the fight against TB and patient numbers at Preston Hall fell dramatically from a high of about 400.

But Dr Bentley was as busy as ever, running a clinic for chest complaints in Foster Street, Maidstone. He was a consultant at the Churchill Centre, a rehabilitation centre for ex-service people in the RBL village.

After Preston Hall Hospital closed about 20 years ago, Dr Brently was a chest consultant at Maidstone Hospital for several years.

After his retirement in the mid 1980s, he was awarded an MBE for his services to the ex-service community.

Dr Bentley was married to Paddy and had two daughters, Anne and Susan. He lived in Conway Road, Allington, Maidstone, for many years before moving to Roseacre Gardens, Bearsted, where he lived with his second wife, Jennie.

Charles Busby, patron of the RBL village branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "He was so dedicated to those many people who suffered chest problems. He was devoted to the ex-service community."

Dr Bentley's widow, Jennie, said: "He was a very kind gentleman. He never stopped learning about his work as a doctor even when he was ill and a few days away from death."

A funeral service will be held at Vinters Park Crematorium, Bearsted Road, Maidstone, on Friday, May 3, at 2.30pm.

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