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Biographical entry Owen, Anthony Wynn Michael Carton (1943 - 2012)

BSc Liverpool 1965; MB ChB 1968; FRCS 1973; FRCS Edin 1973; MS 1983.

8 April 1943
Pinner, Middlesex
17 March 2012
Breast Surgeon and oncologist


Anthony Wynn Michael Carton Owen was a consultant surgeon at Wharfedale General Hospital, Otley. He was born on 8 April 1943 in Pinner, Middlesex, the first of seven children born to Annie and William Owen. His parents met and married in London. His mother, then Annie Daly, a Westmeath lady from Garryduff, Kilbeggan, Ireland, was training to be a nurse at the Middlesex Hospital, while his father, William Mervyn Owen, from Caernarfon, Wales, was studying medicine at St Thomas'. During the Second World War, Tony's father served in the RAMC and in 1940 was on the beach at Dunkirk. He continued to serve in the RAMC after the war had finished, rising to the rank of major and spent a long period stationed on the Rhine, in Germany. After leaving the Army he became a surgeon in Merseyside.

Anthony spent his first three years in Garryduff, and for the rest of his life held a deep love of Ireland and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. His sojourn in Germany, living in the grand officers' mess, was also said to have set the tone for his own lifestyle later on. He went to junior school in Dublin, attending St Michael's College, a preparatory school for Blackrock College, which was run by the Holy Ghost Fathers, also known as 'the Spiritans'. At 13 he went to St Edward's College in Liverpool, falling this time under the influence of the Irish Christian Brothers.

He obtained a BSc with honours from the University of Liverpool in 1965 and qualified MB ChB in 1968, winning the orthopaedic medal in the final examinations. He made an early decision to follow a surgical career, and this began with house surgeon jobs to the professorial unit at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary in 1968. He became a fellow, by examination, of the English and Edinburgh Royal Colleges of Surgeons in 1973.

His surgical training continued with the post of demonstrator of anatomy at the University of Liverpool's department of anatomy. Following this, he rotated through a range of general hospitals in Merseyside, gaining a broad experience in general surgery.

In 1978 he was appointed as a lecturer to the department of surgery at the University of Edinburgh and spent three years under the tutorship of Sir Patrick Forrest. His interest in oncology and in breast cancer was established during this very formative time in his career, and his subsequent appointment as a lecturer in the university department at South Manchester under R A Sellwood established his credentials in breast and endocrine surgery. In these posts he was part of the key teams exploring the usefulness of breast screening for the United Kingdom. He obtained a masters degree in surgery in 1983.

He regularly gave lectures in surgery and published many papers in learned journals. During this time he also supported humanitarian organisations, spending periods overseas supporting international medical aid. He was appointed as a consultant surgeon at the Wharfedale General Hospital in 1990 and retired in 2009. He continued clinical work as an honorary consultant at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital after his retirement. He was for seven years a visiting surgeon to HM Prison Service.

Tony had a great passion for aviation and held his own pilot's license. For five years he was an adviser in aviation medicine to Britannia Airways PLC and an authorised medical examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority. In 1992 he was Lancashire pilot of the year and won the Rodman landing trophy in 1999.

Eoghan Owen, Tony's brother, also a consultant surgeon, said of him at his funeral: 'He was such a complex man in many ways and yet in other ways he was absolutely straightforward. You knew where you were with him, he was straight talking. He lived in the fast lane of life; he was always in a rush, always having to get something done quickly so he could dash off and do something else. He was a perfectionist and "it will do" would never do for Anthony; it had to be right, it had to be perfect.'

As he grew older Anthony's Christian faith became stronger and in retirement he served mass at St Christopher's and at Bishop Eton, in Liverpool. He was a reader and Eucharistic minister in both churches. He never got round to fulfilling his ambition to buy a Ferrari or a Porsche.

Tony's death was unexpected and tragic. He died on 17 March 2012, aged 68, a week after sustaining a head injury following an assault outside his home in Hale, Merseyside. There were no witnesses to the event. He is missed by his family and friends.

Linda de Cossart

The Royal College of Surgeons of England