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Biographical entry Horder, Cecil Arthur (1896 - 1970)

MRCS 1921; FRCS 1924; MB BCh Cambridge 1925; DORCOG 1935.

23 August 1896
18 April 1970
General surgeon and Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Cecil Arthur Horder was born on 23 August 1896, the son of a medical missionary in China who was distinguished by the award of the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for his work on leprosy. Cecil was educated at Weymouth College, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge; and as he had completed his preclinical studies during the 1914-18 war he interrupted his medial course to serve in the Royal Navy as a Surgeon Probationer. When the war was over he came up to St Bartholomew's Hospital for his clinical work, and passed the Conjoint Examination in 1921. He became a Fellow of the College in 1924, and graduated MB BChir Cantab in 1925.

In 1924 he set up in general practice in Tunbridge Wells, and in 1925 he was appointed to the staff of the old Tunbridge Wells Hospital, a voluntary hospital on which there were four honorary surgeons whose work was truly "general", for they all undertook everything, except ophthalmology and otolaryngology, which went to the Eye and Ear Hospital. Later the two hospitals were amalgamated to form the Kent and Sussex Hospital, and by 1942 members of the staff were able to give up their general practice and concentrate on consulting work, Horder, who had taken the DObst RCOG in 1935, specializing in gynaecology. It thus came about that when the National Health Service was established in 1947 he was appointed consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist to the Kent and Sussex Hospital and also to the West Kent Hospital at Maidstone. He never spared himself, and it was no doubt the strain of such an exacting life which brought about the mild cerebro-vascular attack which forced him to retire in 1959 at the age of 63.

After his recovery, however, the next ten years were anything but inactive, for although he gave up surgery, the enjoyment he had always derived from personal contacts with patients was continued through locum work for general practitioners in many parts of England and Scotland, and finally in New Zealand while he was on a visit to his eldest son who was farming out there. This was during the last year of his life when he was also able to visit friends in Australia, and to see the Centre for Moral Re-Armament at Panchgani in India where he had taken a special interest in the establishment of a medical centre.

His was a full and well-balanced life, for in his student days he played rugby football for Bart's and the United Hospitals, and was also an accomplished mountaineer. These vigorous pastimes later gave place to playing bowls and keeping bees - he was always fonder of practical pursuits than of serious reading. His professional work offered full scope for the practical Christianity which was a family inheritance, and later developed into active participation in Moral Re-Armament which appeared to give him and his wife the opportunities they sought for putting their religious ideals into practice. His patients deeply appreciated the influence of these ideals, for they enjoyed the benefits not only of his surgical skill, but also of his kindly attention to their personal needs. His stirling character gained him the regard, the trust, and the affection of his friends and colleagues who elected him Chairman of the Tunbridge Wells Division of the British Medical Association.

His home life was blessed with the mutual love of his wife and four children, two of whom became doctors; and his sixteen grandchildren were a great delight. He seemed to be enjoying life as usual, and was listening to a concert of classical music on the afternoon of Saturday the 18 April 1970, when he died swiftly and peacefully.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1970, 2, 546; information from his son, Dr Patrick T Horder, MB, DPH, and two of his colleagues, Mr W H Gervis, MB, FRCS, and Dr Brian Hosford, MD, MRCP].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England