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Biographical entry Fuller, Alan Pearce (1929 - 2010)

MRCS and FRCS 1958; MB BS Lond 1951; DLO 1953; FRCS Edin 1957.

18 March 1929
Swansea, UK
6 May 2010
ENT surgeon


Alan Fuller was an ENT surgeon at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. He was born in Swansea on 18 March 1929, one of three sons, but the only one to survive more than 24 hours. His mother, Sarah Ann (née Williams), was later an hotelier and his father Frank Austin, who died when Alan was five years old, was on the sales staff of a firm of furniture manufacturers. His mother remarried, but Alan's stepfather later died when Alan was 12 years old. He was educated at Swansea Grammar School and in 1946 won a major county scholarship to St Bartholomew's Medical College. Alan was in the first entry after the college returned from evacuation to Queens' College, Cambridge. The entry was mainly made up of ex-servicemen, and for the first time women were admitted to the college. As a student he worked on the Clifford Naunton Morgan firm at the time when Reginald Murley was chief assistant.

After qualifying, he held house appointments in general and ENT surgery, and a senior ENT house surgeon post in Swansea. He was able to do his National Service in the RAMC (1953 to 1955) as a junior specialist in otology as he had obtained the DLO in 1953. He served with the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR), in Singapore and in Malaya during the Malayan emergency. Whilst in Singapore he, with a fellow Bart's student, Michael Pugh, co-founded the Rahere dining club.

On return from National Service he completed his ENT training at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, before returning to Bart's in 1959 as chief assistant (senior registrar). Here he was much influenced by F C W Capps and (Sir) Cecil Hogg. He was appointed to the consultant staff of St Bartholomew's in 1963 and was also on the staff of Ealing Hospital (1963 to 1985), the Mile End Hospital (1964 to 1968), and later the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children and the Royal Masonic Hospital.

Fuller was an enthusiastic teacher who served St Bart's Medical College as assistant dean (1971), sub-dean in charge of discipline (from 1972 to 1978) and admissions dean (1981 to 1985). He was president of the student's union and a keen supporter of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the rugby club (he had played in the second row as a student). Fuller had once unwittingly won an informal competition held by junior doctors at Bart's for the 'loudest tie of the week', but he later adopted bow ties after he found normal ones were grabbed by playful children while he looked in their ears.

In 1973 Bart's celebrated the 850th anniversary of its foundation. Among the events was an outdoor play. Alan Fuller's perceived resemblance, in stature and beard, to King Henry VIII caused him to be cast as the monarch who had given Bart's a Royal Charter.

In November 1982, Alan Fuller was summoned to King Edward VII Hospital, London, to attend HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who had choked on a salmon bone which she could not dislodge. He removed it under a general anaesthetic given by his colleague Bryan Gillet. The Queen Mother, a keen angler, declared: "The salmon have got their own back". Some 11 years later the same problem happened to her again.

Alan Fuller examined in surgery for the University of London, was a member of the Court of Examiners (from 1984 to 1990) and an external examiner for the ENT fellowship examination of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (from 1990 to 1992). He served on the councils and was a vice-president of both ENT sections of the Royal Society of Medicine.

A delightful companion and most clubbable man, he was secretary of the Rahere Lodge for years, an enthusiastic member of the 17th London General Hospital Territorial Army (TA), a member of the Savage Club, and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Barbers. As a painter in pastels and watercolour he belonged to the London Sketch Club and the Medical Art Society (president from 1993 to 1996). He also in late life enjoyed rough shooting and sailing his hand built dingy aptly named Incus.

Allan Fuller met Janet Marina Williams (known as 'Nini'), a professional caterer, on New Year's Eve 1956, successfully proposed to her on St Valentine's Day 1957 and married her the following month. Their happy married life culminated in their golden wedding anniversary celebrated the year before Nini died after a short illness. Alan Fuller's last years were clouded by Alzheimer's disease. He died on 6 May 2010, and was survived by his son, Geraint, who is a consultant neurologist, and two daughters, Rowena and Charlotte.

Geraint Fuller and Neil Weir

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Daily Telegraph 3 June 2010].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England