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Biographical entry Hassall, Harold (1916 - 2009)

OBE 1986; MRCS 1940; FRCS 1949; MB ChB Manchester 1940; LRCP 1940.

3 February 1916
20 October 2009
General surgeon


Harold Hassall was a consultant surgeon to the South Cheshire Group of Hospitals and the driving force behind the new Leighton Hospital. He was born in Radcliffe, Bury, Greater Manchester, on 3 February 1916, the son of Harold Hassall, a clockmaker, and Mary Hannah Hassall, a schoolteacher. He was educated at Radcliffe Council School, Bury Technical College and Stand Grammar School, before going to Manchester University to study medicine. He qualified in 1940 with a distinction in medicine, and then was a house surgeon to Sir Harry Platt and to the professorial unit.

He joined the RNVR as a surgeon lieutenant in 1941 and served until 1946, both at sea and on shore, finishing as the senior medical officer in the Royal Naval Yard at Trincomalee, Ceylon.

On demobilisation, he returned to Manchester Royal Infirmary as a demonstrator in pathology and then became a surgical registrar in the department of urology in Salford Royal Hospital. This post was followed by registrarships at the Manchester Northern and the Withington hospitals, from which he passed the FRCS and was appointed surgical chief assistant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary in 1949.

He was appointed consultant surgeon to the South Cheshire Group of Hospitals, based at Crewe Memorial Hospital in 1952, where he served until his retirement in 1981. During his career he was also on the staff of Cranage Hall and Mary Dendy hospitals. Harold Hassall was very active in the administration of his hospital and led the commissioning team for the new Leighton Hospital, during which he frustrated plans to cut down on medical staff, forming a successful alliance in this cause with Gwyneth Dunwoody, his local MP. Later he became chairman of its surgical division.

He was a notably neat surgeon, a trait perhaps inherited from his father, the clockmaker, but this did not prevent him from volunteering during a strike to help in the laundry or to mix concrete. A popular teacher, he was postgraduate clinical tutor and surgical tutor for our college. He was chairman of the Crewe division of the BMA. From 1971 to 1973 he was president of the Manchester Regional Association of Surgeons.

His many outside interests included the Royal British Legion, where he was chairman of the Sandbach branch and president of the South Cheshire district. He was patron of the Crewe Sea Cadet Corps and branch secretary of his branch of the Soldiers Sailors and Air Force Association. After retirement he threw himself into raising funds for the new St Luke’s Hospice, Winsford, Cheshire, of which he became chairman. He was an expert on naval history. He was appointed OBE in 1988.

Harold Hassall was married twice. From his first marriage (which was dissolved) he had one son, Richard, who became a clinical psychologist in Leeds, and one daughter, Claire, who is an economist. His second marriage was to Jenefer Jane Hassall, a former medical secretary. They had one son, John, who is a sales executive in Crewe. Harold Hassall died in Leighton Hospital on 20 October 2009.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Jenefer Hassall and J H Wright, Crewe Chronicle 25 June 1981].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England