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Biographical entry Humby, Martin Douglas (1939 - 2007)

MRCS and FRCS 1979; MB BS London 1971; LRCP 1979.

26 December 1939
Ashurst, Hampshire, UK
18 May 2007
General surgeon


Martin Humby was a surgeon at Lymington Hospital in the New Forest, Hampshire. An outstanding surgeon, dedicated family man, accomplished musician, sailor and furniture maker, he served his community well. He was born in Ashurst, in the New Forest, on 26 December 1939, the son of Lester Humby, an insurance agent, and Kathleen Anne Humby, a housewife. He was educated locally at Colbury and in Southampton, leaving at the age of 16 without any qualifications. He applied to join the Royal Navy, but failed to gain entry, so undertook casual labouring jobs, cutting hedges in the New Forest. His first hospital job was as a porter at Southampton General hospital, which was followed by becoming first a laboratory assistant and then a theatre technician at the age of 18. There he was so efficient and outstanding that Shackleton, the senior consultant anaesthetist at the hospital, urged Martin to attend evening classes at Southampton Technical College, to gain the necessary qualifications to try for medical school. He began his medical training at University College Hospital in 1966 at the age of 26. In 1970 he met Rosalind (‘Ros’), who was nursing at the Royal South Hampshire Hospital. They married just before he qualified at the age of 31 in 1971.

He began his house jobs at Southampton General Hospital. He was then appointed as an anatomy demonstrator, rotating with a senior house officer post in the accident and emergency department, from which he passed the primary FRCS. He went on be a senior house officer at Salisbury District Hospital under Bonar Mackie. He was then appointed to the surgical registrar rotation post between Bournemouth and Southampton, during which he passed the final FRCS.

He was then appointed to locum senior registrar positions in Basingstoke, Chichester and London, but had difficulty in obtaining a substantive senior registrar post, so in 1978 he began a GP training post in Lyndhurst, combining this with a temporary lecturer post at Southampton University in general surgery and urology, during which he carried out a review of the results of treatment of renal cell carcinoma. By now he had family responsibilities, and was advised to give up the quest for senior registrar posts. He began work as a part-time hospital practitioner at Lymington Hospital under Frank McGinn and Chris Smart, and combined this with a part-time general practice appointment at Lyndhurst.

He was very successful in both posts: his patients loved him. He was so conscientious that he began extra fracture clinics and theatre lists in the hospital. He also became a local police surgeon and in 1993 became the hospital manager at Lymington. In 1994 new regulations obliged him to choose between general practice and surgery: he chose the latter, despite a reduction in salary, and he was appointed associate specialist surgeon at Lymington in general surgery and urology. He continued regular fracture clinics for the orthopaedic surgeons and performed cystoscopy and endoscopy lists. His general surgery included colectomies, cholecystectomies and thyroidectomies. He was chairman of the Lymington Hospital medical staff committee from 1991 to 1993.

He took up the trombone in 1988 and this gave way to the drums in 1990. He had a natural musical talent and played regularly for the Foresters Jazz Band. He was a keen and skilful sailor, competing at Lymington and Cowes in his beloved, all-wooden sailing boat. Martin’s carpentry and furniture making was of a high standard and his chairs, drawers and dressers are fine testimonies to his skill and manual dexterity.

Martin developed pain in the back in 1993 while antifouling his boat. X-rays revealed multiple myeloma with collapse of the atlas vertebra. Despite radiotherapy and two marrow transplants, during subsequent years he relapsed. Martin became part-time in 2005. His last operating list was performed three weeks before he died from pneumonia on 18 May 2007. He left his widow Ros, who is still working as a nurse at Lymington Hospital, three daughters, Ellinor (a GP in Bristol), Rebecca and Isabel, and two grandchildren. He is sorely missed at Lymington Hospital, where one of the two new theatres is named after him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Rosalind Humby].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England