Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Garden, Robert Symon (1910 - 1982)

FRCS ad eundem 1970; MB BCh Aberdeen 1934; MCh 1936; FRCS Ed 1939.

2 August 1910
Macduff, Banffshire
16 October 1982
Orthopaedic surgeon


Robert Symon Garden, the youngest of the three children of John Garden, a farmer, and of Elizabeth Garden (née Hackett), was born at Macduff, Banffshire, on 2 August 1910. He was educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, and Marischal College, Aberdeen University, where he graduated in 1934. After resident appointments at Preston Royal Infirmary and Southport, he was orthopaedic registrar to Professor T P McMurray at David Lewis Northern Hospital and the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, subsequently expressing his deep indebtedness to McMurray during this five year period. He took the MCh Orth in 1936 and Edinburgh FRCS in 1939 and, on the outbreak of war, he worked in the Emergency Medical Service at Southport before joining the RAMC. He commanded No 3 Orthopaedic Centre in Egypt, North Africa and Italy between 1942 and 1945, and was for a short while in charge of a field surgical unit before taking command of No 4 CCS and 48 General Hospital in Austria. He was demobilised in 1946 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

On returning to the UK he was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the Preston and Chorley Group of Hospitals where his industry and skill built up a first-class orthopaedic and accident unit. He vigorously campaigned for the improvement of the accident department and was one of the first to organise direct radio links between his department and the ambulance service. For many years he lectured regularly to the district ambulance staff to emphasise the crucial part they could play in reducing the mortality and morbidity in accident victims. He also fought hard to establish an intensive care unit for the seriously injured at a time when this concept was in its infancy. He was far-sighted enough to recognise the opportunities for clinical research in a busy regional hospital and was instrumental in founding a research fund for the hospital staff. He was especially interested in the functional anatomy of the femoral neck and devised the generally accepted classification of sub-capital fractures of the femur, including an ingenious method of fixation by placing two screws at an angle. He was a man of exceptional intellectual honesty who was always careful to point out the imperfections of his own line of treatment for fractures of the femoral neck on which he wrote a number of papers. His publications also included articles on the casualty department, accident services and management of the seriously injured.

He was a Fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association, a member of the Societe Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie, lecturer at the University of Liverpool, and was especially pleased by his election to the FRCS ad eundem in 1970. He had been active in the BMA and was chairman of the local division in 1967. He was a warm and kindly man who inspired the loyalty and devotion of his juniors and was intolerant of pomposity. Outside his professional work he was interested in photography, fishing and English literature, and ill health compelled his early retirement in 1974. Only a few years later he suffered further illness which resulted in permanent and serious incapacity. He married Janet Ann McHardy in 1939 and they had a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Grahame, who is a medical graduate. When he died on 16 October 1982 he was survived by his wife and children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 285, 1751].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England