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Biographical entry Wadge, Winifred Joan (1904 - 2010)

BA Cambridge 1926; MRCS LRCP 1934; MB BS London 1936; FRCS 1939.

22 May 1904
Ilford, Essex
6 April 2010
ENT surgeon


Winifred Joan Wadge was a consultant ENT surgeon at the Royal Ear Hospital (University College Hospital) and the Nelson Hospital, Wimbledon. She was born on 22 May 1904 in Ilford, Essex, the second of three children to Frederick Collett Wadge, a solicitor, and Winifred Hardwick Wadge née Shacklock, whose father was the owner and manager of Mansfield Brewery. Both her brothers became doctors.

Educated at St Paul's Girls' School from 1915 to 1923, Winifred Wadge went up to Newnham College, Cambridge, to read natural sciences and physiology. On completion of her BA in 1926 she became a research assistant to B A McSwiney in Leeds. With him she published two papers on the sympathetic nervous system in the Journal of Physiology ('Effects of variations in intensity and frequency on the contractions of the stomach obtained by stimulation of the vagus nerve.' J Physiol. 1928 Aug 14;65[4]:350-6, 'The sympathetic innervation of the stomach: I. The effect on the stomach of stimulation of the thoracic sympathetic trunk.' J Physiol. 1930 Oct 31;70[3]:253-60). It is highly probable that this experience led Winifred Wadge to consider medicine as a profession, as her next move was to study anatomy at University College, London (UCL) (from 1929 to 1931), before starting her clinical studies at University College Medical School in 1931. As a student she continued her interest in physiology as an assistant in the UCL department of physiology.

After qualifying MB BS in 1936, she became a house surgeon to the ENT department of University College Hospital, which was situated in the Royal Ear Hospital and was encouraged to do ENT by F E Watkyn-Thomas and Myles Formby. Part of this job was to work with the general surgeons Gwynne Williams (who in 1935 also became dean of the medical school) and E K Martin, both of whom also influenced her choice of career. No doubt torn between these surgical specialties, Winifred Wadge became casualty officer at King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, and later undertook several short-term anaesthetist appointments at UCH, before electing to pursue a career in ENT, starting as a registrar at UCH in 1937. Throughout the Second World War she held the post of first assistant and in 1946 she was appointed as an assistant surgeon. She was advanced to full surgeon in 1948. In 1953 she wrote the section on throat and oropharynx in Watkyn-Thomas' Diseases of the throat, nose and ear (London, H K Lewis & Co). On her retirement in 1969 she became consulting surgeon.

Winifred Wadge led a busy life outside medicine. She followed the country pursuits of riding and gardening, loved music and collected antique furniture and pictures. Perhaps her greatest pursuit was to breed, exhibit and judge Pembroke Welsh corgis of the Whielden line.

Winifred Wadge died on 6 April 2010, aged 105. She never married.

Neil Weir

The Royal College of Surgeons of England