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Biographical entry Griffith, Gwilym Huw (1933 - 2004)

OBE 1998; FRCS 1962; MB BS London 1956.

2 May 1933
Denbigh, Wales
12 January 2004
Newport, Wales
General surgeon


Gwilym Huw Griffith was a consultant general surgeon at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. He was born on 2 May 1933 in Denbigh, Wales, the younger of two children. His father was a Welsh Presbyterian minister and his mother was a teacher at Howell's, an independent girls' school. Gwilym was educated at Denbigh Grammar School and, in October 1950, at the age of 17, went on to St Mary's Hospital in London to study medicine, qualifying in 1956.

Between 1956 and 1958 Gwilym completed various house jobs in and around London. From September 1958 to October 1960, he served as a captain in the RAMC for his National Service, acting as a junior specialist in surgery at the Military Hospital in Dhekelia, Cyprus, and at Benghazi, North Africa.

Having gained his FRCS in 1962, he worked as a surgical registrar and was latterly appointed as a surgical registrar at St George's Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London, where he worked under the watchful eyes of Charles Drew and Harold Siddons.

In 1963 he was appointed as a registrar at Llandough Hospital and the Cardiff Royal Infirmary. He worked closely with David Crosby, and assisted him with the first renal transplant to be performed in Wales. He became a senior registrar at the surgical unit of the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, under Patrick Forrest. In August 1967 he became a senior registrar in surgery at Singleton Hospital, Swansea.

Gwilym had a very thorough and comprehensive training in general surgery, with a specialist interest in endocrine surgery, an interest he developed under the influence of Hilary Wade in Cardiff. In May 1972 he was appointed as a consultant in general surgery at the then Newport and East Monmouthshire hospitals. He started his career as a consultant on 1 September at St Woolos Hospital, later transferring to the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Gwilym quickly developed a very large practice in general and endocrine surgery. His commitment and care of his patients were exemplary. The training of junior surgeons was also important to him. He helped establish the Welsh Surgical Travellers Club and became president of the Welsh Surgical Society. In August 1987 he was elected chairman of the medical executive committee, and in 1993 was appointed medical director of the then Glan Hafren NHS Trust. In 1995 Gwilym was diagnosed with malignant myeloma. He responded well to treatment and was able to return to work a year later. In 1998 he was awarded an OBE for services to medicine.

Gwilym was proud of his Welsh roots. He had a fine singing voice and enjoyed listening to music. He was a member of the executive committee of the National Eisteddfod in Newport in 1988 and was also chairman of the literature committee. A keen mountaineer from the 1950s, he helped St Mary's Climbing Club buy a hut in North Wales, which is still in use. He delighted in spending time in the French Alps near Chamonix, where he had an apartment. He was an enthusiastic skier and when snow shut the roads in Newport in 1982 he skied to the hospital to see his patients.

He married Elan in 1964 and they had three daughters. Gwilym Huw Griffith died on 12 January 2004 in Newport, Wales, aged 70.

Brian Rees

The Royal College of Surgeons of England