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Biographical entry Hockley, Anthony David (1943 - 2009)

MRCS 1966; FRCS 1999; MB BS London 1966; LRCP 1966; FRCS Edin 1970.

4 October 1943
Hampton Court
21 June 2009


Tony Hockley was a neurosurgeon in Birmingham. He was born at Hampton Court on 4 October 1943, the son of Charles Hockley, a businessman, and Freda née Dubovie, a fashion designer. He was educated at Brighton College, where he was an exhibition scholar. He entered the medical college of the London Hospital in 1961, graduating in 1966 proxime accessit in his final year.

His house surgeon appointments were to the professorial medical unit at the London Hospital, and to the neurology and neurosurgery departments. He was influenced in the last of these posts by D W C Northfield. Subsequent appointments included posts at the Birmingham Accident Hospital and at St Mary Abbot's Hospital, London.

He began his neurosurgical career at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Glasgow, where he was a senior house officer from 1970 to 1971. From 1972 to 1978, he was a registrar and senior registrar in neurosurgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, with a period of one year (in 1974) as a visiting fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. There he came into contact with the noted neurosurgeons, Hendrick and Hoffman, with whom he remained friends for the rest of his career.

He was appointed as a consultant neurosurgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, in 1978, doing both adult and paediatric work, but later he devoted himself to the latter specialty, establishing the craniofacial surgery unit in Birmingham, which became one of the four designated units in Britain for that subspecialty. The treatment of intracranial and spinal tumours and the understanding of the cause of raised intracranial pressure in craniosynostosis were other important interests. In 2001, he carried out a successful operation for the separation of Siamese twins. He gained his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons ad eundem in 1999.

Hockley was prominent in the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, of which he was president in 1997, the European Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery and the International Society of Craniofacial Surgery. He wrote on craniofacial surgery and a wide variety of other topics and was co-editor of the volume Paediatric neurosurgery (London, Churchill Livingstone, 1999), to which he contributed the chapter on tumours. He was interested in medical ethics, and the medieval Jewish physician Maimonides, and he established a West Midland group for the study of Jewish medical ethics.

Tony Hockley was a modest, self-effacing man whose quiet, kindly personality and devotion to his subject, his patients and the training and interests of his of junior staff left a strong impression on those who came in contact with him.

He and his wife, Heather, an optometrist, had three sons (Nicholas Charles, Andrew James and Richard Mark), none of whom went into medicine. His interests outside medicine were tennis, music and the theatre. He died of heart failure on 21 June 2009, aged 65.

T T King

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 29 July 2009].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England