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Biographical entry Stallard, Hyla Bristow (1901 - 1973)

MBE 1942; TD 1944; MRCS 1926; FRCS 1928; MB BCh 1925; MA Cambridge 1928; MD 1933; MCh 1967; Hon LLD St Andrew's 1952.

28 April 1901
21 October 1973
Ophthalmic surgeon and Pathologist


Hyla Bristow Stallard, always known as Henry to his many friends, was born in Leeds on 28 April 1901. He went to a preparatory school in Cheltenham and then to Sherborne where in addition to success at his work he also began to show the athletic prowess which so distinguished his later career at Cambridge. He was at Clare College and won the mile against Oxford in 1920, 1921 and 1922. He was amateur champion of the United Kingdom for the mile, half-mile and quarter-mile for 1923-25, and ran for England from 1921 to 1927. He represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games of 1924, and the British Empire against the United States the same year.

These athletic achievements did not interfere with his studies and he entered St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1923 with the Shuter Scholarship, and qualified with the Cambridge degree in 1925 and the Conjoint Diploma in 1926. He became house surgeon to Professor George Gask and won the Bentley Prize for the best houseman of his year. He was influenced in general surgical technique by Thomas Dunhill, but being naturally dextrous and interested in technical detail he became attracted to ophthalmology and in the eye department at Bart's came under the influence of Foster Moore.

He obtained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1928, and in the same year was appointed pathologist to Moorfields Hospital, and assistant surgeon in 1933. In 1937 he became assistant ophthalmic surgeon to St Bartholomew's, but shortly afterwards, as he was a Territorial, he left his hospital duties to serve first in the Middle East and the Western Desert, and later with the advanced units in the Normandy campaign. He made valuable contributions to the surgery of the eye injuries, for which he was awarded the MBE in 1942 and was mentioned in despatches in 1943. He was then a Major in the RAMC, and refused further promotion as this would have involved abandoning clinical ophthalmology.

Returning to civilian practice after the war he was made full surgeon to the ophthalmic department at Bart's in 1945, and to Moorfields in 1947, and resumed his special work on the irradiation treatment of malignant disease of the eye, for which he became famous the world over. As a house surgeon he was associated with the use of radium in the Surgical Professorial Unit, and then collaborated with Foster Moore in the treatment of eye tumours with radium. He obtained further opportunities for pursuing this special interest by being appointed surgeon to the Radium Institute and Mount Vernon Hospital. He was a tireless worker - his athletic fitness stood him in good stead - and he insisted on the most careful and detailed examination of every patient, and the same unhurried attention to detail in every operation he undertook; and he will be remembered for his rather shy but unfailing courtesy to his patients and his colleagues.

Stallard was awarded many academic distinctions, having been a Hunterian Professor in 1955, 1960 and 1967; President of the Section of Ophthalmology of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1967 to 1969; President of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom 1972-73; and Honorary LLD in the University of St Andrew's in 1952. He was a gifted artist, and some of his many publications were illustrated with his own drawings.

In 1932 he married Gwynneth Constance Page whom he had met in his early days at Moorfields, and in their happy married life she was always closely associated with his professional and literary work. Henry was a man of simple tastes and spartan self-discipline, and it was particularly sad that the man who had been so distinguished as an athlete, and as one who preferred a bicycle to a motor car for travelling about the London streets, should have been ultimately crippled by Paget's disease of the pelvis complicated by sarcoma. Of this he died on 21 October 1973, and his wife survived him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1973, 4, 302; Lancet 1973, 2, 1038; The Times 25 October 1973].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England