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Biographical entry Sandes, Gladys Maud (Mrs Maxwell Alston) (1897 - 1968)

MRCS 1922; FRCS 1930; MB BS London 1922; LRCP 1922.

5 November 1897
17 January 1968
General surgeon, Urologist and Venereologist


Born in Dublin on 5 November 1897, the daughter of John Sandes of Greenville, Listowel, Co Kerry, she was educated at Wimbledon High School and the London School of Medicine for Women, since 1947 the Royal Free Hospital Medical School. Her interest in medicine was aroused during her school days by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. After qualifying in 1922 she became surgical registrar at the South London Hospital for Women and the London Lock Hospital, later becoming consultant at Queen Mary's Hospital, Carshalton and the Mothers' Hospital, London. In addition, she worked as a clinical assistant in the urological department of the Royal Free. She also became consultant to the London Lock Hospital, an appointment she prized, but which disappeared with the advent of the NHS. After retirement in 1962 she was a member of the house committee of the Queen Mary's Hospital for the East End and the house committee of the Mothers' Hospital.

She was an active member of the Royal Society of Medicine and of its Section of the History of Medicine.

From 1955 to 1957 she was chairman of the Marylebone Division of the BMA and was for many years their representative at the annual representative meetings. She served on the Women's Advisory Committee of the British Standards Institution; as a member of the executive of the Fellowship for Freedom in Medicine and as chairman of the editorial committee of Mother and child. She rendered great but unobtrusive service in the care of patients with venereal disease and, in particular, of children who were victims of sexual assault. She was a member of the Standing Committee of Convocation of London University and chairman of the Old Students Association of the Royal Free Hospital, with which she retained an active connection, having been a part-time teacher in the anatomy department for 40 years.

In 1929, in conjunction with Dr Evelyn Hewer, she wrote An introduction to the study of the nervous system, the first edition of which was so successful that it was reprinted in 1933. She took a great personal interest in all her students whether from home or abroad and made a point of keeping in touch with them after they had completed their studies. Similarly with her patients she took infinite pains to arrange for all their needs over and above those of their medical treatment.

An enthusiastic traveller she had visited many countries in Europe and, in addition, the United States, Canada, Russia and S Africa. This enabled her to add constantly to her wide circle of friends and acquaintances. She was an active member of the Irish Genealogical Society and she was a witty and telling debater, always ready to cope with all contingencies, whether those of illness or those produced by authority with which she disagreed.

She continued working indefatigably in spite of illness up till the time of her death.

She married Dr Maxwell Alston MD, FRCP, and they had one daughter. She practised at 41 Devonshire Street, W1 and died on 17 January 1968, survived by her husband and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 18 January 1968; Brit med J 1968, 1, 255; Lancet 1968, 1, 211; Ann of Roy Coll Surg Engl 1968, 42, 207].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England