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Biographical entry Seal, Philip Victor (1940 - 2013)

FRCS 1969; MB ChB Manchester 1964.

17 June 1940
12 January 2013
Orthopaedic surgeon


Philip Victor Seal, known as 'Vic' to family, friends and colleagues, was a popular and highly respected orthopaedic surgeon in Hereford. He was born in Brighton, Sussex, from humble stock. His father, Eric Joseph Seal, was a carpenter, killed in action in 1945. His mother, Emily Nellie Seal née Ellyatt, came from a family of bakers. Vic was educated at grammar schools in Brighton and Harrogate. He was an outstanding scholar: having won the school chemistry prize, he went up to Manchester College of Science and Technology to study chemical engineering, but was drawn to a career in medicine. He moved to Manchester University Medical School, where he graduated in 1964. He won the Public Welfare Foundation prize in his final year.

He held junior posts in Bristol and Bournemouth before he joined the orthopaedic registrar training programme at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry. His interests within orthopaedics were developed under the guidance of D Lloyd-Griffiths, Gerald Slee, Brian Thomas and Brian O'Connor. In addition, his trauma skills were advanced during time spent with P S London at the Birmingham Accident Hospital. At the latter end of his specialist training he spent a year working with A R Hodgson at the paediatric spinal surgery unit in Hong Kong and was particularly interested in the early diagnosis and treatment of idiopathic scoliosis.

On Brian Thomas' retirement in 1975, Vic was appointed as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Hereford and Oswestry. In Hereford his orthopaedic interests were diverse and general. He ran clinics for children's orthopaedics and for spinal disorders, and was later instrumental in the development of knee arthroscopy and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. In this he was a pioneer in the use of Gore-Tex synthetic ligaments, performing over 100 procedures with outstanding results.

In Oswestry he joined the spinal disorders team, but in 1990 he resigned his position at Oswestry to continue full-time in Hereford.

Vic was keenly involved in medical management at Hereford and was chairman of the district management board for a number of years. He was outspoken in his opinions about developments in the Health Service, both locally and nationally, and was unstinting in his efforts to maintain the highest standards of care for Hereford patients, often against a background of inadequate resources.

Away from work, Vic's interests were many and varied. As well as being a great family man, he enjoyed tennis, squash, skiing, golf and gardening. He was an accomplished pianist and post-retirement his musical talents extended enthusiastically into learning to play the church organ, eventually helping out at services in some Herefordshire churches.

Unfortunately, just prior to his retirement in 2002, Vic developed prostate carcinoma which, after successful initial treatment, left his great energies undiminished until the condition became more widespread. He died on 12 January 2013 at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife Lee, his children Philipa and Kate, and two grandchildren.

David Williams

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2013 346 1414].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England