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Biographical entry Thornberry, David John (1950 - 2009)

MRCS 1974; FRCS 1980; MA Cambridge 1975; MB BChir 1975; LRCP 1974.

31 July 1950
London, UK
15 August 2009
consultant in rehabilitation medicine


David John Thornberry was a consultant in rehabilitation medicine at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. He was born in London on 31 July 1950, the son of Cyril Joseph Thornberry, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and Elizabeth Mary née Marks, a radiographer. His sister went on to become a consultant anaesthetist. He was educated at Cambusdoon Preparatory School in Ayrshire and then Harrow. He studied medicine at Queens' College, Cambridge, and St Thomas' Hospital, London.

He held junior posts at St Thomas', including appointments as an orthopaedic house surgeon and as a senior house officer in the accident and emergency department. He then specialised in surgery, becoming a senior house officer in general surgery at Portsmouth and then a registrar at Wolverhampton.

It was while he was working as a registrar that he developed multiple sclerosis, being diagnosed in 1979. He retrained as a medical officer in the artificial limb and appliance service at Selly Oak, Roehampton, Exeter and Plymouth. He was appointed as a consultant in rehabilitation medicine at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, in 1990 with a particular interest in neurological disability and amputees. As his multiple sclerosis progressed, he began to work part-time.

He was a member of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine, a committee member of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, Engineering in Medicine and of the national executive of the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine.

He married Judi in 1977. They had two daughters, Hannah Kate and Alice Elizabeth, and a son, David Thomas.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed sailing, rowing and rugby. He was a talented artist, adapting his style to his ability. He died 15 August 2009 from complications of metastatic melanoma and his multiple sclerosis.

John Blandy

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Charles S Perkins; BMJ 2009 339 4016].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England