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Biographical entry Welch, George Somerville (1935 - 2006)

OBE 1982; TD 1982; MRCS 1959; FRCS 1963; MB BS London 1959; LRCP 1959; FRSC Edinburgh 1988.

5 August 1935
Edinburgh, UK
4 February 2006
Orthopaedic surgeon


George Welch was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. He was born in Edinburgh on 5 August 1935, the son of George Welch, an actuary, and Unie Macpherson. The family, including his brother David (who became a GP in Norwich), moved to Surrey early in George’s life. His childhood was marred by congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia, for which he had several operations, but which led to amputation at the age of 15. He was educated at St John’s School, Leatherhead, and the London Hospital Medical College.

After qualifying in 1959, he was successively house physician, house surgeon and resident accoucheur at the London. He began his orthopaedic training at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London, before returning to Edinburgh as a senior registrar at the Royal Infirmary and the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital with J I P James. There he met Heather Wales, a nursing sister, whom he married in 1966.

In 1969 George was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. His enthusiasm, industry and organisational ability led to the development of a progressive and comprehensive orthopaedic service in Inverness and a host of peripheral clinics throughout the north of Scotland and the Western Isles. He reorganised and led the accident and emergency service.

In spite of his artificial leg, he played an active role in the Territorial Army, becoming a lieutenant colonel and detachment commander of 205 Scottish General Hospital for 12 years, for which he received the Territorial Decoration and the OBE in 1982. He subsequently commanded a field surgical team until shortly before he retired in 1994, a year after being appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Invernessshire.

Sadly his retirement was marred by motor neurone disease and he was unable to pursue his longstanding model railway hobby and gardening, and inevitably he had to relinquish his role as Deputy Lord Lieutenant. He spent the last seven years of his life in a wheelchair, cared for with devotion by his wife Heather, and three daughters (one of whom is a nurse), until his death on 4 February 2006.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2006 333 605].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England