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‘A guardian angel’: Much-loved Ipswich doctor dies

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, has died aged 81. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJAN

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, has died aged 81. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJAN

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An Ipswich doctor who became his patients’ “guardian angel” after setting up three nursing homes to help those most in need has died, prompting an outpouring of emotional tributes.

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, worked at Ipswich Hospital for 35 years. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJANDr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, worked at Ipswich Hospital for 35 years. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJAN

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan - popularly known as Dr Jay - has been described as a "lovely, old school gentleman" who "never said anything bad about anyone", following his death aged 81.

The doting grandfather had a long career working at Ipswich Hospital and running nursing homes in Felixstowe and Witnesham for more than 30 years after emigrating to the UK from India in 1966, shortly after marrying his wife Rema.

He found responsibility thrust upon him at a young age when his father, who had encouraged him to embark on a career in medicine, died when Dr Jay was aged just 19.

After following his father's wishes and studying at Bangalore Medical College in India, Dr Jay found his skills were in high demand on his arrival in the UK - which was short of doctors at the time.

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, set up and ran three care homes in Felixstowe and Witnesham. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJANDr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, set up and ran three care homes in Felixstowe and Witnesham. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJAN

Working first in Brighton and then Preston, he moved the family to Suffolk to start work in Ipswich Hospital in 1972 under the wing of the renowned Dr John Agate.

Specialising in geriatric care, Dr Jay and Rema decided to open the Leopold Nursing Home in Felixstowe in 1987, followed by Witnesham Nursing Home in 1988 and St Mary's Nursing Home in the early 1990s.

The pair would operate the care homes for the best part of three decades, which Dr Jay's funeral this week heard was "partly born out of innovative entreprenuerial spirit and partly out of a desire to provide an otherwise unavailable level of much-needed care for vulnerable, elderly patients with little or no family or funds to support them".

His motto was: "Don't worry about the money, look after the patients as though they are your family and everything else will fall into place" - an ethos that carried each home through major challenges.

Dr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, has died aged 81. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJANDr Sukumaran Jayarajan, commonly known as Dr Jay, has died aged 81. Picture: SHEILA JAYARAJAN

Yet Dr Jay was also a trailblazer in bringing Filipino and Malaysian nurses into the UK from 1999 onwards to address a severe shortage of nurses in Suffolk.

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Over the years he would bring 250 foreign nurses into the county, helping to significantly bolster care levels in Suffolk and give strong career opportunities to immigrants.

Dr Jay officially retired from Ipswich Hospital in 2004 but stayed on as a locum doctor for several years afterwards.

He remained closely involved in the running of the care homes, before funding problems forced the closure of the two Felixstowe homes a few years ago.

"It broke his heart to close the homes and he did it reluctantly after putting his own personal funds into them," said his daughter, Sheila Jayarajan.

"He was always very modest about what he did. Even as children, we were brought up and told that if you couldn't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

"He lived by that ethos. He never said anything bad about anyone, however hard he was pushed.

"He was such a lovely, old-school gentleman. He never lost his temper. He was one of those really calm people but if he heard of anyone treating residents badly, there was no second chance.

"People have described him as their guardian angel."

Dr Jay, who died on December 27, was father to Sheila and Usha and grandfather to four-year-old Anisha, who "instantly became to apple of her grandfather's eye" when she was born.

His funeral took place at Seven Hills Crematorium on Tuesday, January 21.

Do you have memories of Dr Jay? Write, giving your full contact details, here.


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