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Biographical entry Helsby, Charles Raymond (1921 - 1987)

MRCS and FRCS 1950, MB ChB Liverpool 1944, ChM 1957.

13 February 1921
St Helens, Lancashire
30 September 1987
General surgeon and Vascular surgeon


Charles Raymond Helsby was born on 13 February 1921 in St Helens, Lancs, the son of a local businessman, Frederick Johnson Helsby and his wife Emily, née Cawley. Following the local infant school he attended Merchant Taylors' School in Crosby and went on to the Liverpool Medical School. He qualified in 1944 following a difficult medical course as the Liverpool Medical School was almost destroyed by enemy action in 1940 when the departments of anatomy and physiology were particularly severely damaged. As a student Raymond was an assiduous member of the Student Christian Movement. He was a keen rugby player. Following qualification he held junior posts at the Royal Southern and Liverpool Royal Infirmary joining the RAMC in 1945. He was attached to 149 Parachute Field Ambulance serving as Captain until 1948. He returned to civilian life as a demonstrator in the department of anatomy. He held registrar appointments at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary and obtained the FRCS in 1950. He was particularly influenced by Professor Charles Wells with whom he had a lifelong friendship. His early interest in urology came from this association and from his association with J Crosbie Ross. Helsby was appointed as a research assistant in Chicago in 1952 and he also spent some time in Houston. Here he gained an interest in peripheral vascular surgery.

On appointment to the staff of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary he worked for a short while with Professor Charles Wells. On the appointment of Professor Stock, Helsby left the university department of surgery to work with Clifford Brewer. He was now able to start his own department of vascular surgery. He was a founder member of the Vascular Society of Great Britain, later to become its President. He was appointed a regional adviser to the Royal College and he was also appointed to the examining board. He took his ChM in 1957 using as the basis of his thesis, 'The conservation of the severely damaged calculus kidney' a paper for which he was awarded a Jacksonian Prize in 1960. He was a member of the Surgical Travellers' Club, and for a time served as its secretary, which gave him the opportunity, along with his wife, Joyce, to arrange many of its activities at home and abroad. This gave him particular pleasure. He was appointed as a Vice-President to the Liverpool Medical Institution. The Liverpool Royal Infirmary closed down in 1978 and the new Royal Liverpool Hospital was commissioned. Helsby was one of the medical members of the commissioning team and was appointed the first Chairman of the new medical board.

In 1949 he had married Joyce Watson, a Liverpool medical student who qualified in 1945. Joyce took the MRCOG and practised in Liverpool. They lived life to the full and hosted splendid parties. He retired prematurely to Devon in 1981. He had always had a great love for equestrian matters (other than racing) and retirement gave him the opportunity to farm and enjoy his recreation. He also got pleasure from sailing, shooting and skiing. He was a keen collector of 18th-century cordial glasses. In retirement he studied music and painting.

He developed an anginal pain with associated dyspnoea which interfered with his recreations so Raymond underwent investigations in a London clinic. During these he suffered a fatal cardiac infarct on September 30 1987. He was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1987, 295, 1425].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England