Canon Leslie Virgo (1925 – 2013)

Leslie Virgo had a wide and varied career – from serving on the Royal Navy Minesweeper HMS Loyalty, surviving a German torpedo attack in the English Channel in 1944, working as an Assistant Registrar in Croydon, training in ‘analysis’ at the Tavistock and Langham Clinics in London and being ordained into the Church of England in 1958.

Leslie was a founder member of the Association of Pastoral Care and Counselling and one of the founders of the British Association of Counselling.

Between 1959 and 1974, Leslie was Chaplain and Psychotherapist at Pinel House – a pioneering treatment centre for alcohol and drug addiction established by Dr Max Glatt in the grounds of Warlingham Park Hospital, Selsdon, South London.

At the time, Dr Clifford Salter was Director of Pinel House. When he left, Leslie was asked to look after the Unit: Pinel House is thought to have been the first centre of its kind in UK.

In 1974, Leslie became Advisor for Pastoral Care and Counselling to the Bishop of Rochester and also Rector to St Martins of Tours, Chelsfield, near Orpington: he continued in these roles for 37 years

Leslie was a member of the Institute of Psychotherapy, established the West Kent Association for Psychotherapy and was also a Senior Lecturer and Examiner for the University of London, conducting an extra mural Diploma Course at the Chelsfield Pastoral Centre.

He became involved with the British Doctors and Dentists Group in 1983 when he was asked to attend the Annual Convention of BDDG in Selsdon Park, London, to run a series of Workshops for the family members of alcoholic and drug addicted doctors and dentists and also to provide counselling sessions. From this grew the Families Group of BDDG with which Leslie was closely associated until retiring as Facilitator to the Group, and from his other ‘roles’, in February 2011, prior to retiring to Gloucestershire.

Since 1983, Leslie attended all of the BDDG Annual Conventions, with one exception, providing Workshops for the Families Group of BDDG and counselling, not only for Families Group members but also for attending alcoholic or drug addicted doctors and dentists in recovery.

Leslie also facilitated numerous ‘Away Days’ for members of the Families Group and members of BDDG: these valuable days enabled members to come to terms with their past and to begin to understand something more of their own process of growth and development, enabling greater freedom in choice and responsibility.

Many members of BDDG and the Families Group of BDDG are indebted to Leslie for his insights and assistance on their journey of recovery.

Honorary Membership of the British Doctors and Dentists Group was bestowed on Leslie on 26 February 2011 with grateful thanks, and in recognition of his remarkable and invaluable service, over many years, to the membership of the British Doctors and Dentists Group.

Leslie died in Gloucestershire on 6 August 2013.

Leslie left us some final ‘musings’ at Leslie Virgo – The Musings of a Canon

Leslie Virgo interview: Leslie Virgo – ‘Link’ Interview’.