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Biographical entry Smith, Charles William (1923 - 2006)

MRCS 1947; FRCS 1954; MB BS London 1948; DLO 1950; LRCP 1947.

24 October 1923
London, UK
2 October 2006
ENT surgeon


Charles William Smith was a consultant ENT surgeon in York. He was born in Kenton, London, on 24 October 1923, the first son of Cecil Smith and Mabel née Gibb. His father, who had served in the First World War with the Royal West Kent Regiment (known as ‘the Dirty Half Hundred’), was badly wounded in the face at the Battle of the Somme, and remained disfigured and partially incapacitated for the rest of his life. Charles Smith and his brother were both educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood and were brought up in a happy Christian household. He always maintained that his acceptance at St Thomas’ Medical School was more due to the fact that the Dean recognised his father from the war than his own academic prowess. At medical school he was a keen athlete and rugby player.

His first house job was with the ENT department, which no doubt shaped his future career. He continued his training at the Royal Waterloo, the Charing Cross and the Royal Marsden hospitals, and then fitted in his National Service (spent in the Royal Army Medical Corps serving in Chester and Klagenfurt, Austria), before becoming chief assistant to the ENT department at St Thomas’ in 1956.

He was appointed, initially as the sole ENT consultant, to the York hospitals in 1959 and served there until 1988. During this time he not only developed his own department, but was also the lead clinician in the planning of the new York District Hospital.

Charles Smith became a member of the Court of Examiners at the RCS in 1962. He served as chairman of the York division of the BMA and was president of the North of England Society of Otolaryngology, the section of otology at the RSM and the Visiting Association of Throat and Ear Surgeons of Great Britain. He was honorary treasurer of the British Academic Conference in Otolaryngology, and served as honorary treasurer and then president (from 1984 to 1987) of the British Association of Otolaryngologists. During the time of his presidency he did much to represent the specialty’s interests in Europe and was founder president of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS). At the end of his term of office he was awarded a gold award by the International Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (IFOS).

His appointment to the Archbishop’s council reflected his longstanding friendship with Donald Coggan who, ahead of him at school, had been a curate to the Rev Marshall Hewitt (Charles’s future father-in-law). He persuaded his superior that Charles was a suitable match for his only daughter, and was given the privilege of marrying them at All Soul’s Langham Place. When Charles Smith eventually arrived in York he found Donald Coggan was Archbishop.

Charles Smith married Moyra (née Hewitt) in 1955. They had five children, Penn, Basil, Johanna, Rupert and Jeremy. His wide range of other interests included his local church, motor caravanning, gardening, photography, golf, natural history and fly fishing. He was master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company of York. He died on 2 October 2006.

Neil Weir

The Royal College of Surgeons of England