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Biographical entry Stirk, David Ian (1916 - 2009)

MRCS 1942; FRCS 1952; LRCP 1942; FICS 1970.

1 March 1916
15 September 2009
General surgeon


David Stirk was a consultant general surgeon in Barnstaple and an authority on golf. He was born in Exeter on 1 March 1916, the son of a doctor. He was educated at Blundell’s and studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital.

After five years in the RAMC, three of which were spent in India, he returned to London to specialise in surgery and passed the FRCS in 1952. He then went to Singapore to take up an appointment as a general surgeon, returning in 1959 as the first consultant general surgeon at the North Devon Infirmary in Barnstaple, where he remained until his retirement in 1980. Hitherto the North Devon Infirmary had been looked after by GP specialists, but David now built up a department of surgery, which, on its new site at the North Devon District Hospital, now has seven consultant surgeons. He published papers on duodenal haematoma, strangulated inguino-femoral hernia, pneumothorax and penetrating abdominal injuries.

Although he was the leading surgeon in north Devon during the latter phases of his working life, he was better known throughout Great Britain as an outstanding golfer and made many friends in the golfing world. After retiring from his medical work, he became a leading authority on old golf equipment, particularly clubs, of which he had an impressive collection. With Ian Henderson, he wrote the leading work on the subject, Golf in the making (Crawley, Hants, Henderson and Stirk Ltd, 1979), as well as 11 other books on golfing subjects. He advised many of the oldest golf clubs in the country on their collections and one of the leading auctioneers of old golfing equipment. He played an important role in the establishment of a museum at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, of which he was a member. Amongst his achievements as a player, he was runner up in the British Seniors’ Championship, twice winner of the Devon Open Championship (a competition open to professionals as well as amateurs), winner of the Devon Amateur Championship and of the Singapore Amateur Championship. In later years he was one of the few golfers who have completed a round of golf in fewer strokes than their age, a feat which he accomplished frequently, although he himself did not think it really counted unless it was done under strict medal competition conditions from the very back tees.

David and his wife Joan-Anne were married on 3 September 1949 and celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2009. He is survived by Joan-Anne, their three sons (Ian, Denzil and Graeme) and five grandchildren. He died peacefully in Exmouth Hospital on 15 September 2009, aged 93.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England