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Biographical entry Holt, Robert Lord (1903 - 1979)

OBE; TD; MRCS 1926; FRCS 1928; MB ChB Manchester 1925; MD 1938; LRCP 1926.

18 May 1903
10 March 1979
General surgeon


Robert Lord Holt was born near Oldham on 18 May 1903 and educated at William Hulme's Grammar School, and Manchester University, where he qualified with many distinctions. He held numerous resident appointments in Manchester and obtained his Fellowship in 1928. In 1931 he was Dickson Travelling Scholar at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, where he carried out original research on the toxic effects of small bowel strangulation, work which eventually gained his MD with Gold Medal in 1938. In 1934, he became chief assistant to Professor A H Burgess. From 1933-39 he held staff appointments at the Christie, Manchester Northern, Withington Hospitals and the children's department at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester. He was appointed to the staff of the Royal Infirmary Teaching Hospital in 1939 but before he could take up the appointment, he was mobilised with the Territorial General Hospital, serving in the BEF and the MEF, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel with an OBE. At the Christie in 1945, he concentrated on the problems of breast cancer, thyroid disease and the upper intestinal tract. He was a popular teacher and published many original papers. He was a lucid debater and became a prominent contributer to the Association of Surgeons, the Moynihan Chirurgical Club and the Manchester Surgical Society. He was an examiner in the University of Cambridge and a member of the Court of Examiners at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Holt was a large imposing man and could not escape the popular name of 'Tiny'. He inspired confidence and respect in his patients, his students and his many friends. In the theatre, he was calm and unhurried with a gentle touch. In his personal life, he was genial and good humoured and, socially, he and his wife Sara were a strikingly handsome couple. He was always interested in cricket, playing with distinction as a student, but his lifelong recreation was fly fishing, being a keen member of the Yorkshire Fly Fishers.

Increasing arthritis caused Holt to retire in 1964 and he suffered progressively ill health made worse by the death of his wife Sara in 1974. In 1975 he married Constance who brought him much happiness in his last years. He died on 10 March 1979 at the age of 76. He left no children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1979, 1, 692].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England