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Biographical entry Richards, Brian (1934 - 2003)

MRCS and FRCS 1962; BChir Cambridge 1958; MB 1959; MD 1968.

20 August 1934
Cambridge, UK
6 June 2003


Brian Richards was a nationally recognised researcher into bladder cancer. He was born on 20 August 1934 in Cambridge, the son of Francis Alan Richards, a consultant physician, and Mary Loveday née Murray, the daughter of a professor of divinity. He was educated at Kingshot Preparatory School, Epsom College and St John’s College, Cambridge, and then went to St Bartholomew’s Hospital for his clinical studies. After junior posts at Bart’s and the Whittington he specialised in surgery. He was much influenced by Alec Badenoch.

He was appointed to York District Hospital in 1970, at first as a general surgeon, but he soon devoted himself to urology, concentrating on cancer of the bladder. Brian helped set up the Yorkshire Urological Cancer Research Group in 1973, which collaborated with the European Organisation for Research in the Treatment of Cancer (EOTRC) and became one of the most active instruments for clinical trials in the UK. His talent for organisation and diplomacy led the EOTRC to ask him to lead the evaluation of all its clinical research groups, as Chairman of the Breuer committee. Later, he served on the Medical Research Council’s working party on the management of testicular tumours.

In York, his practical skills and formidable intellect made him a valued colleague. He had a total lack of pretension, and seemed to have an uncanny ability to follow his many talents and maintain his many interests. He dabbled in self-sufficiency, making his own methane from slurry and his own electricity from a windmill in his garden. Sadly, Parkinson’s disease forced him to give up medicine and later the clarinet, but instead he became the ‘fixer’ for the York concerts of the British Music Society and the Guildhall Orchestra. He married a Miss Gardiner in 1964 and they had three daughters, one of whom is qualified in medicine. He died on 6 June 2003.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2004 328 352, with portrait; information from Philip Smith.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England