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Biographical entry Gardham, John Richard Carr (1937 - 2014)

MB BChir Cambridge 1962; FRCS 1964; MChir 1966; MD 1976.

26 April 1937
6 August 2014
Oare, Somerset
General surgeon and Vascular surgeon


John Richard Carr Gardham, always known as Richard, was a consultant general surgeon and medical director of Chase Farm Hospital NHS Trust. Born in London on 26 April 1937, he came from a medical background. His father, Arthur John Gardham, was a consultant surgeon at University College Hospital and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons; his mother, Audrey Glenton (née Carr), was a general practitioner in St John's Wood, London. It was therefore perhaps not surprising that, after schooling at Winchester College, where he won the Duberly prize, he proceeded to read for a degree in medicine, initially at Trinity College, Cambridge and then in London for his clinical studies at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. He qualified in 1962.

His training in surgery was wide and he worked in several different hospitals, during which he was especially influenced by William (Bill) Richardson at Chase Farm Hospital, Frank Cockett at St Thomas' Hospital, Alan Birt in Norwich and Adrian Marston at the Middlesex. The research for his MD thesis titled 'Pyloric stenosis and paradoxical acid urine' was carried out at the Middlesex in the department of surgery under the supervision of Leslie Le Quesne and Michael Hobsley; the work was awarded the Sir Lionel Whitby medal and prize for a thesis of exceptional merit. By the time of his consultant appointment to Chase Farm Hospital in 1975 he was expertly trained in all branches of general surgery, including urology and vascular, and it was this latter interest that he pursued increasingly as his career progressed.

Richard was a meticulous, painstaking surgeon with a first class knowledge of anatomy. He believed that if an operation was worth doing it was worth doing properly. He was an excellent clinical opinion and hugely admired by his patients. In his early consultant years, he undertook a prodigious workload, but as the years progressed he was in demand for his excellent administrative skills and he undertook an increasing amount of hospital committee work, becoming chairman of the surgical division and eventually the hospital's first medical director, a post he held for five years. He retired at the age of 62, in 1999, at a time when his beloved Chase Farm Hospital was about to undergo a merger with Barnet Hospital as part of a geographical rationalisation of services.

Retiring to the family home on the edge of Exmoor, originally bought by his father, Richard was able to pursue his love of riding and country sports, which had been largely denied him during his clinical career. He rode with the local hunt twice a week, tended his market garden, became a church warden at St Mary's, Oare (the Lorna Doone church) and spearheaded a campaign to rid the local woodland of excess rhododendron and make it friendlier for wildlife. His visits to London were infrequent, except to Lord's, where he was a member of the MCC, and to meetings of the Senior Fellows Society of the College, where he enjoyed meeting former colleagues. A quiet, gentle man with a backbone of steel when needed, Richard was a revered surgeon at Chase Farm Hospital and a much-loved member of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds in Oare. At his memorial service the tune Gone away was played on a hunting horn.

It was while a registrar at St Thomas' that he met Mary (née England), a nurse, whom he married in 1968. They had three children, Clare, Duncan and Aiden. In 2014 he developed leukaemia, and despite intensive chemotherapy died within a few months of diagnosis, on 6 August 2014. He was 79.

Sir Barry Jackson

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2015 350 740 - accessed 5 February 2016; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England