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Biographical entry Porter, Richard William (1935 - 2005)

MRCS and FRCS 1966; MB ChB Edin 1958; MD 1981; DSc 2001; DObst RCOG 1961; FRCS Edin 1961 LRCP 1966.

16 February 1935
Doncaster, UK
20 July 2005
Orthopaedic surgeon


Richard William Porter was a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon in Aberdeen. He was born on 16 February 1935 in Doncaster, the son of J Luther Porter, a china merchant and Methodist minister, and Mary Field. He was educated at Oundle and Edinburgh University, and completed his surgical training at Edinburgh. Following house appointments he became a ships' surgeon for three months before returning to Edinburgh as a senior house officer and passing the FRCS Edinburgh and the DObstRCOG. He began his surgical training as a registrar in Sheffield and after obtaining the FRCS England in 1966 he became a senior registrar on the orthopaedic training programme at King's College Hospital, where he was much influenced by Hubert Wood and Christopher Attenborough.

He returned to Doncaster as consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the Royal Infirmary and soon took an interest in low back pain, a common problem among the coal miners. He set up a research programme and established a department of bioengineering which attracted postgraduate students from home and abroad. He became an authority on the use of ultrasound in the investigation of back pain published papers and a book on the subject and was awarded an MD in 1981 for this work. His reputation resulted in the presidency of the Society for Back Pain Research and a founder membership of the European Spine Society. He was also on the council of the British Orthopaedic Association and the Society of Clinical Anatomists.

In 1990 he was appointed to the Sir Harry Platt chair of orthopaedic surgery in Aberdeen and developed links with China and Romania, and later became the first Syme professor of orthopaedics in the University of Edinburgh and director of education and training at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Following his retirement he returned to Doncaster and, as a devout Christian, played a very full part in the local Evangelical Methodist Church. He published extensively and was the author of three textbooks. In 1964 he married Christine Brown, whom he had known since his schooldays. They had four sons, one of whom is an orthopaedic surgeon, two are Anglican ministers and one a Methodist minister. He died on 20 July 2005.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England