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Biographical entry Carruthers, Michael Oliver (1919 - 2014)

MRCS LRCP 1943; FRCS 1949.

31 July 1919
Reigate, Surrey
24 January 2014
Noss Mayo, Devon
ENT surgeon


Michael ('Mike') Carruthers was a consultant ENT surgeon at St Thomas' Hospital and Lambeth Hospital, London. He had a great sense of humour, a profound sense of the ridiculous, and as a practical person was happiest when operating and being with his extensive family.

He was born on 31 July 1919 in Reigate, the second of three children of William Stephen Carruthers, who ran W S Carruthers, a building and property firm, and Marion Dorothy (née Belgrave). His family had no medical connections. Educated at Gresham's School in Norfolk, where he excelled in most sports and became a competitive shot, he decided to pursue a career in medicine. Mike Carruthers gained a place at Clare College, Cambridge, and was accepted for clinical studies at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London. He qualified in 1943 and was enlisted into the RAMC and sent to France 30 days after D-Day. In common with many, he spoke little about his experiences in the war, but was undoubtedly affected by them.

After peace had been declared Mike was stationed for 18 months in and around Wuppertal, Germany, where he salvaged medical equipment and cared for survivors of concentration camps. During this hard period of his life he raised his own morale and that of the local villagers by shooting a 'royal' stag. The villagers gained the carcass and Mike the 12-pointed antlers, which with difficulty he managed to get home to the UK when he was demobilised in October 1946.

Mike Carruthers returned to St Thomas' and, no doubt influenced by his wartime experience, decided that he wanted to become a surgeon. After passing the primary FRCS, he did general surgery at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and completed the FRCS in 1949. A further year was spent in plastic surgery before in 1950 being appointed registrar to the ENT department at St Thomas', where he was greatly encouraged by (later Sir) Geoffrey Bateman. In 1956 he replaced Fred Neilson as consultant ENT surgeon. Before starting his job he was given the opportunity to absorb the changing practice of ENT by visiting clinics in Zurich, Bordeaux, Padua, Freiburg and Stockholm.

Mike enjoyed operating, teaching and examining for the diploma of laryngology and otology and was heavily involved in the planning of the new ENT department in the north wing.

In July 1952 he married Kathleen Reeve (always known as 'Jo'), who was a Nightingale nurse. They had two sons and a daughter who trained as a physiotherapist.

Mike retired at the age of 60 in August 1979. He built a house in the beautiful village of Noss Mayo near Plymouth, Devon. There he enjoyed sailing, fishing and practical activities associated with the village. Above all his family and grandchildren formed the most important part of his life.

Although he had a stroke in 2011, which affected his speech, he managed to stay at home, where he died peacefully two and a half years later on 24 January 2014 - with his sense of humour still intact. He was 94.

Jo Carruthers
Neil Weir

The Royal College of Surgeons of England