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Biographical entry Haw, David William Martin (1926 - 2010)

MRCS and FRCS 1960; MB ChB Leeds 1951; BSc Leeds 1948.

17 September 1926
Batticaloa, Ceylon
30 July 2010
Shipton-by- Beningbrough, North Yorkshire, UK
Orthopaedic surgeon


David Haw was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in York who had very broad interests, but enjoyed paediatrics as a subspecialty. He had an abiding interest in clinical anatomy, and in retirement taught anatomy to medical students for 11 years.

He was born on 17 September 1926 at Batticaloa, Ceylon, into a Methodist missionary family, and was the second son of Rev Albert Haw and Kathleen Ellen née Turk, the daughter of a commercial traveller. His father contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and the family returned to England so the condition could be treated without the benefit of drug therapy. Sadly, this was unsuccessful and Albert died within a few years. The family struggled to come to terms with their loss.

His elementary school education, due to family moves over this period, took place at three schools - St Michael's (Leeds), West Street (Farnham, Surrey) and Western (Harrogate), before he proceeded to the Priors Court Preparatory School in Thatcham, Berkshire. He then joined his older brother, Richard, at the boarding school Kingswood in Bath, founded in 1715 by John Wesley. He had six years of secondary education during the war years, some of this time being spent in buildings also occupied by boys from Uppingham School.

He had a distinguished academic career alongside a fine record on the rugby field and the athletic track. He formed two lifelong friendships, with Bill Courtney and Russell Keeley, at the school. He developed a love of natural history, which he shared with Russell, and this pointed them both to a scientific career and a desire to study medicine. This love of nature and particularly the works of Charles Darwin did not combine easily with the rather strict views in the family household. David also showed considerable merit as an artist, and painting became a lifelong hobby. His earlier works had a striking and abstract dreamlike style: later he turned to landscape painting.

David gained a Frank Parkinson scholarship to Leeds University Medical School in 1944 and added to this a state scholarship, which allowed him to undertake a BSc course in anatomy under Archibald Durward, who had a great influence on him. Durward was in post for nearly 30 years from 1936, as was his colleague, Hemingway, in physiology. They were diligent research workers and excellent teachers, and both left a lot of valuable archival material in the Leeds University collection. Durward performed some excellent work on the blood supply of the nervous system, relating this to traumatic and compression syndromes. Little wonder that David Haw undertook a post as demonstrator of anatomy in preparation for his FRCS examination.

On qualification, he undertook a wide variety of house appointments before deciding on his future career. He worked as house physician in the VD department in Leeds, combined as it was in the 1940s with dermatology, and then proceeded to a house physician post in Leeds. General surgical house jobs followed in Leeds and Harrogate, before he entered the RAF in 1952 for three years on a short service commission.

As a student he met an attractive medical student Marjorie, the youngest daughter of Arthur Hetherington, a bank manager and his wife, Mary. She was born in Silloth, Cumberland, a small port and fishing village overlooking the Solway Firth. Arthur Hetherington died in 1934 when Marjorie was eight years of age. She was educated at Durham High School and her interests veered towards science, as well as literature and drama. Her sixth form science subjects were studied at Houghon-le-Spring Grammar School. She gained a scholarship to enter Leeds University and achieved her ambition of studying medicine. David and Marjorie had a whirlwind romance and became a couple early in their university careers. Although she was a science student, she loved English literature and drama, and the University provided ample opportunity to mix with people with literary interests, and to take an active part in the University drama society. She also took a great interest in David's outside interests in athletics and painting. In 1947 the two of them organised, as students, an art exhibition in Leeds City Hall, featuring works of Lowry, Nash and other artists of the 1940s. Some of David's own works were exhibited at Leeds University in 1948, and in addition he gained a 'consolation prize' in a Daily Mirror national competition.

From his schooldays David Haw was an excellent athlete, particularly in long distance running. He was English Universities champion at three miles in 1948 and 1950, and at cross-country distances in 1946, 1948 and 1950. He ran at various distances for Yorkshire, Suffolk and Northern counties, and later for the RAF and Combined Services athletic teams.

As a 20-year-old David ran for England in Edinburgh, and was fully expected to be selected to run in the 5,000 metres for England at the 1948 London Olympics. A newspaper cutting of that time noted 'this loose limbed powerful medical student ran for England in yesterday's international tournament in Edinburgh. He has carried everything before him across the country this winter - he is almost sure to be running for us in the Olympic Games next year'. Unfortunately, he contracted pneumonia in January 1948 and was not in a position to compete in the summer.

Much to the displeasure of both families, who thought they were far too young to make a commitment that would endure, Marjorie and David married in 1948 when still completing their medical studies. This was something virtually unheard of in those days. Marjorie produced their first born, Judith, in 1949, just before sitting her final examinations. Post qualification, she seemed adept at fitting in house jobs, gaining clinical experience and having two more children, Catherine and Roger, around David's commitments and her duties as a mother. All this was at a time when junior doctors worked long hours. So there were obviously many periods of separation in the Haw household. They had a happy married life, and a family of two sons and three daughters. An abiding memory of their progeny in early childhood was a move nearly every year - not an uncommon phenomenon in family life when climbing the surgical ladder in those days.

Deciding on surgery as a career, he obtained a senior house officer post at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and continued his general training as a resident surgical officer at Ashton under Lyne, and recorded his gratitude at the excellent teaching he obtained in operative techniques from Roland Grime.

An interest in orthopaedics started in Manchester when working with Sir John Charnley. Also on this senior house officer rotation he gained experience in the management of head injuries under John McEwen Potter, who was working in the north before becoming director of postgraduate medical education in Oxford.

Deciding finally on orthopaedics as a career specialty, he undertook a senior house officer post at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Progressing to registrar grade at the Lord Mayor Treoloar Hospital, he was fortunate to come under the guidance of Evan Stanley Evans, who had first been appointed in 1946 as medical superintendent to the hospital, and was successor to Sir Henry Gauvain, who died in harness. The care of children crippled by surgical tuberculosis, osteomyelitis and poliomyelitis was all too common in these early years, and later the hospital became a regional centre for patients of all ages. Evans was a good general and paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, with balanced views of the needs of disabled children and adults, including their educational and vocational requirements. This post broadened David Haw's outlook on the need to manage the 'whole' patient.

He moved as a registrar to Guy's Hospital, one of the first hospitals to appoint specialist orthopaedic surgeons. Here he came under the influence of John Stanley Batchelor, a New Zealand born orthopaedic surgeon who pioneered a modification of the Grice subtalar fusion and an excision osteotomy of the hip. With an international reputation in congenital dislocation of the hip, the frog plaster is also attributed to Batchelor. He also worked with 'Tim' (Temple Theodore) Stamm, the third of orthopaedic appointees at Guys' Hospital, a rather shy and retiring man who was highly regarded by his juniors for his technical excellence and unhurried operating. At least three of David Haw's publications were in the Guy's Hospital Reports in the 1960s: 'Dislocation of the hip in a case of neurofibromatosis' (1963;112:103-12), 'Compression studies of fractures of the carpal scaphoid' (1963;112:94-102) and 'A review of fifty-one cases of arthrodesis of the hip' (1964;113:6-16). 'Complication following fracture dislocation of the hip' appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1965 (Apr 24;1[5442]:1111-2). His senior registrar training was on rotation between the Leeds General Infirmary, Bradford and Hull. During this period he was very much influenced by Arthur Naylor of Bradford, whom he regarded as a 'master operator' and who wrote many papers on 'accident services' and 'back injuries'. Naylor had been both Hunterian professor in 1952 and an Arris and Gale lecturer in 1961.

Appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon in York in 1965, David, Marjorie and their five children settled in East Court, Shipton-by-Beningbrough, Yorkshire, and converted a tumble-down wreck into a warm family home with a garden, which they opened to the public each year. Marjorie re-started her own medical career and trained in anaesthetics at Leeds. She gained a consultant post in Wakefield, which she held until she was 62 years of age, when she retired and then took a history degree.

David gained the respect of patients, colleagues, trainees, nurses and physiotherapists over his many years of service. He was a dedicated and compassionate man who inspired loyalty, and was particularly interested in paediatric orthopaedic problems. Well-known for an ability to strike up a conversation with anyone, whatever their status, David Haw was never boastful of his many achievements.

He was an active member of numerous societies. With his outward-looking approach, he arranged for the 'Holdsworth Club' to visit Germany and California. He also attended meetings of the British Orthopaedic Association, and for many years continued his athletic activities by running with the 'Northern Veterans'. From its foundation in 1977, David Haw regularly attended the summer and winter scientific meetings of the British Association of Clinical Anatomists, always taking part in a quiet and responsible way.

In retirement, the Haws enjoyed travel to the Amazon, Jamaica, the USA, Australia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as well as undertaking regular visits to their villa in Spain and timeshares in the Lake District.

David Haw died peacefully on 30 July 2010 in St Catherine's Nursing Home, Shipton-by- Beningbrough after a short illness, and a well-attended funeral service was held at the local Church of the Holy Evangelists. His wife of 62 years, Marjorie Haw, died within a year, and he was survived by his three daughters, Judith, Catherine and Sally, and two sons, Roger and Marcus. There are 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

N Alan Green

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Judith, Catherine, Roger, Sally and Marcus Haw].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England