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Biographical entry Candlin, Richard Eric (1919 - 2011)

BSc St Andrews 1946; MB ChB 1949; FRCS 1953.

28 April 1919
Mukdon, Manchuria, China
10 January 2011
General surgeon, Orthopaedic surgeon and Trauma surgeon


Eric Candlin was a consultant orthopaedic and general surgeon at St Leonard's, Manor House, Enfield War Memorial and Cheshunt Cottage hospitals. He was born in Mukden, Manchuria, China, the third child and second son of George Alfred Candlin, general manager of the Russo-Asiatic Bank in the Far East, and Ellen Frances Candlin née Binns, the daughter of a colliery agent. His paternal grandfather was a missionary in China. He was educated at Kent House School in Eastbourne and then Victoria College, Jersey. He was a pacifist in his youth, but was converted from this by a year at Heidelberg University (from 1936 to 1937), when he read chemistry and physics.

Whilst a Harkness open scholar at St Andrews University, reading for his BSc, he was commissioned in the Supplementary Reserve in 1939, and went in the 7th Field Regiment Royal Artillery with the British Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of the Second World War, returning via Dunkirk. He later served with the 19th Field Regiment Royal Artillery in Italy.

After the war he returned as a medical student to St Andrews, qualifying - with a few short cuts - in 1949. His interest in trauma was aroused by a stint as a house surgeon to the Medical Research Council's burns unit at Birmingham Accident Hospital. After learning his craft at Nottingham City Hospital and a period in general practice, he qualified FRCS in 1953. An appointment as a registrar then as a senior registrar in general surgery to the London and the Metropolitan hospitals was followed in 1964 by an invitation to apply for an appointment as a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the latter, and later at St Leonard's Hospital, Shoreditch.

In this period he was a locum in every metropolitan region in both general and orthopaedic surgery; and from 1964 to 1984 was at Enfield War Memorial and Cheshunt Cottage hospitals as a general surgeon, becoming a very dexterous vasectomist, clearing his waiting list of 19 on his last day!

In 1969 he was appointed to the private Manor House Hospital, Golders Green, and developed a particular interest in hip surgery and arthroscopy. Because of the geographic spread of the hospital's patients, he acquired a nationwide view of his specialty and continued to operate until he was almost 70.

Over the years, and in collaboration with his secretary, he built up a remarkably widespread medico-legal practice based on broad medical and social experience, exploitation of the business potential of computers, diligent pursuit of records and considerable presence as a professional witness. He made regular circuits from Kent and the South Coast, to Exeter and as far north as Cheshire and Yorkshire, and south to the Channel Islands to visit patients; he saw his last patient and completed his final case report in 2010.
Elected to the reforming Conservative Islington Council in 1968, in his three years as a councillor he was chairman in turn of the committees for cleaning and baths, children, public health, environmental health and social services, and health (with housing).

He was a lifelong beekeeper, keeping hives in sometimes peculiar locations as required by his peripatetic early career. Many a church fete benefitted from the honey, and in his late eighties he was still collecting swarms causing a nuisance in public places when asked to do so by the local police.

He was a part-time assistant to his wife, a GP, by whom he had six children (Deirdre, Lucy, George, Zoe, James and Athene), in addition to a daughter, Diana, from his war-time marriage to Anne Fry. He died on 10 January 2011, aged 91. His wife, Anthea MacBean, predeceased him by three years to the day.

Richard Eric Candlin

Sources used to compile this entry: [Victoria College Foundation Newsletter Volume 10 March edition 2011 pp.11-12; Islington Tribune 8 April 2011 p.6].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England