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Biographical entry Tyrrell, Timothy Martin (1908 - 1968)

MRCS 1932; FRCS 1935; BA Cambridge 1929; MB BCh 1935; LRCP 1932.

14 May 1908
2 March 1968
Ophthalmic surgeon


Timothy Martin Tyrrell was born on 14 May 1908 at Brentwood, the son of F A C Tyrrell FRCS, and thus he came of four generations of medical men associated with St Thomas's Hospital. His grandfather was Walter Tyrrell MRCS, apothecary and anaesthetist to St Thomas's, and his great grandfather was Frederick Tyrrell, whose name is commemorated in the old operating theatre of St Thomas's discovered in the attic of the present chapter house of Southwark Cathedral opposite Guy's Hospital.

He was educated at Westminster School, Trinity College Cambridge and St Thomas's Hospital where he gained the Hadden Prize and the Mead Medal. After qualifying in 1932 he first held surgical house appointments followed by appointment as junior and then senior ophthalmic house surgeon. Shortly after being admitted to the Fellowship in 1935 he was appointed assistant surgeon to the Royal Eye Hospital, later becoming full surgeon. He was for a time ophthalmic surgeon to the Willesden General Hospital and he was an ophthalmic surgeon to the French, the Italian, the Teddington, the Kingston and the Nelson Hospitals. At the French and Italian Hospitals his knowledge of languages stood him in good stead. He also worked as a clinical assistant in the eye department of King's College Hospital and as consultant ophthalmologist to the Royal School for the Blind, Leatherhead.

At the College he was an Hunterian Professor in 1944 lecturing on lacrimal passage surgery and in the following two years was Erasmus Wilson Lecturer. He was also an examiner for the DOMS.

Tyrrell was a man of extraordinary energy, of whimsical charm and of very wide interests. He took great trouble in getting to know his patients well and would often show a remarkable and detailed knowledge of their affairs beyond that strictly necessary for the treatment of their ophthalmic condition. He was a Liveryman of the Drapers' Company and an eminent Freemason, being a Past Grand Deacon and, for many years, secretary of the Old Westminster School Lodge. He had outstanding knowledge of church architecture and was familiar with most of the notable churches in Britain. His greatest interest was always the Royal Eye Hospital, which at the beginning of the second world war was transferred to Surbiton, concerning the administration of which he had a detailed knowledge.

The Southern Ophthalmological Society, of which he was President at the time of his death met at Surbiton on several occasions. "Tim" Tyrrell will be remembered with gratitude by the numerous residents whom he trained in the hospital.

He married Beryl Stenning in 1936 who survived him with their two sons and a daughter who is a nurse.

He died suddenly on 2 March 1968 while on holiday, aged 59.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 5 March 1968 and 13 June 1968 p.12e; Brit med J 1968, 1, 711; Brit J Ophthal 1968, 52, 432].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England