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Biographical entry Ball, Andrew Justin (1949 - 2015)

MB BS Bristol 1972; FRCS 1977; MD 1984.

22 July 1949
8 January 2015


Andrew Ball, always known to his friends as 'Andy', was a consultant urologist in Southend, Essex. He was born in Bristol on 22 July 1949, the son of Keith Seymour Ball and Joan S Ball née Godfrey. Both parents were schoolteachers in the city and in his youth he regularly accompanied his father to support Bristol Rovers football team. His accomplishment as a pianist gained him an exhibition to Clifton School and later gave him the opportunity to consider a career in music. However, his humility and lack of pretension totally obscured his musical talents, which were only revealed to a few close contemporaries who recall his virtuoso performances at school and the entertaining compositions which he happily produced for student reviews. He studied medicine at Bristol University, qualifying MB BS in 1972.

He held house posts in Bath and Bristol, and then became an anatomy demonstrator at Bristol University. From 1974 to 1975 he was a senior house officer in surgery and urology at Bristol Royal Infirmary. He then became a registrar in surgery in Cardiff for two years. In 1979 he was a senior registrar at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. From 1980 to 1982 he was a senior registrar in urology at Ham Green Hospital, Bristol. He then became a senior registrar in urology at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Appointed as a consultant urologist at Southend-on-Sea in 1984, he built up a large, comprehensive department of urology whilst retaining his specialist interest in functional disorders. With impressive interpersonal skills, Andy became an extremely popular consultant, respected with sincere affection by patients and all grades of staff. Natural self-effacement restrained him from seeking the accolades he deserved for praiseworthy mile-stones achieved during his professional career.

His research focused on the natural history of untreated male lower urinary tract symptoms, at that time termed 'prostatism', building on the objective assessment that urodynamic studies were introducing to lower urinary tract disorders at that time. He showed for the first time that most men do not require urgent prostate surgery. This seminal work produced a prestigious, internationally applauded publication on the subject during the completion of his MD thesis, providing the foundation for subsequent studies ('The natural history of untreated "prostatism"'. British Journal of Urology 1981 Dec;53[6]:613-6).

His loyalty to his home city of Bristol and the long-standing relationships with friends, colleagues and teachers formed a particularly endearing feature of his relaxed, well-balanced character. His ability to spread good cheer with a broad engaging smile, a sparkling, almost wicked wit which he tinged with a unique touch of irony, made him a very warm, friendly entertaining companion on any occasion.

Astronomy became one of Andy's major hobbies when he moved to Southend and typically he could talk with a great deal of knowledge and authority on the subject, yet few of his friends would have been aware of this.

His sudden death on 8 January 2015 in early retirement came as a profound shock to all who knew him and occurred during a short, severe viral illness. He was 65. He left a wife Georgina (née Watson), whom he met when she was working as a staff nurse at Bristol Royal Infirmary, and a son, Alex.

Roger Feneley

The Royal College of Surgeons of England