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Biographical entry Broadfoot, James (1920 - 2012)

FRCS 1951; MB BS Sydney 1943; FRACS 1972; FRCS Edin.

17 March 1920
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
24 December 2012


James Broadfoot was a urologist in Sydney, Australia. He was born in Townsville, Queensland, on 17 March 1920, the eldest son of James and Emily Broadfoot, who had left the UK to settle in Australia. He spent his early years in Townsville, and then, at the age of five, moved with his family to Sydney, New South Wales. He went to Lindfield Public School (which was later attended by his four children and three of his grandchildren) and then North Sydney Boys High School. During these formative years he participated in rugby, swimming and pursed his passion for amateur radio.

James attended Sydney University Medical School and graduated in 1943. He undertook his junior residency at Lismore Base Hospital in rural New South Wales and his senior residency at Royal North Shore Hospital. In 1946 he spent a year in the Merchant Navy as a ship's surgeon aboard The Erin, a refrigerated ship of 7,500 tons under control of the Royal Navy which supplied fresh produce to various naval vessels.

Upon completion of his naval adventures, he returned to Royal North Shore Hospital as a surgical registrar. During this time he was exposed to the various surgical specialties and had to make a difficult choice between obstetrics/gynaecology and urology. He chose urology.

In March 1949 he married Elizabeth Helen Nalder and they travelled to the UK, where he undertook further specialist training. He worked at St Peter's and St Paul's and Hillingdon hospitals whilst undertaking his studies at the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1950 he sat for the primary exams of the English and Edinburgh colleges, eventually gaining his fellowship of both.

In 1952 he returned to Australia and settled in Lindfield, a northern suburb of Sydney. He was appointed as a junior honorary urologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in 1953 and commenced practice in Macquarie Street, Sydney. He was also appointed to Hornsby Hospital as a junior honorary urologist in 1954.

James had a special way of teaching, and spent over 20 years teaching and tutoring senior medical students at Royal North Shore Hospital. In recognition of his contributions to teaching senior medical students, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1972.

He retired in 1979 and was appointed emeritus consultant urologist at Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Hospital in recognition of his years of service.

Outside medicine, James was a keen golfer, as well as an avid fan of Fats Waller. He took great delight in listening to his large collection of Fats Waller recordings and took up learning to play the piano in his fifties in the hope that he would one day be able to play the music of his idol.

James was survived by his wife Helen, his children James, Jane, Matthew and Diana, and his seven grandchildren (Amani, Saneia, Deborah, Robert, Anthea, Richard and Edwina) and four great grandchildren (Rhys, Josie, Hamish and Harvey). As his daughter, I had the good fortune to work alongside many of his medical and nursing colleagues after his retirement, and I was always immensely proud to hear how well he was regarded, as a surgeon and as a gentleman.

Diana Broadfoot

The Royal College of Surgeons of England