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Biographical entry Sayle-Creer, William (1903 - 1984)

MRCS 1928; FRCS 1935; MB ChB Liverpool 1927; MChOrth 1934; LRCP 1928.

4 June 1903
Bootle, Lancashire
11 April 1984
Orthopaedic surgeon


William Sayle-Creer, the eldest son of William Sayle-Creer, a cashier, and of Rosa (née Veale) was born at Bootle, Lancashire, on 4 June 1903. After early education at Darne School, Ormskirk, he secured a state scholarship to Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby, before graduating from Liverpool University in 1927. He served as house physician, house surgeon and orthopaedic registrar at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary where his later choice of specialty was profoundly influenced by Reginald Watson-Jones. He also acknowledged his indebtedness to Sir Robert Kelly, Robert Kennon and Professor T P McMurray. Following these early appointments he then worked as a Dorothy Temple Cross Research Fellow in Boston and New York.

After securing higher surgical qualifications he was appointed honorary consultant surgeon with R G Ollerenshaw at Salford in 1936, with whom he established a thriving orthopaedic department. Sayle-Creer was a brilliant technician who made the most complex procedures appear easy. A great advocate of 'no-touch technique', he showed during the war years that deficient technique, rather than faulty gloves, was the cause of most sepsis. He had a special interest in the grossly handicapped and in children with problems of the feet, organising and running orthopaedic services for the disabled at Pictor House and other schools. His lifelong research into children's feet brought him surgical pupils from all over the world. These he taught, by example and kindness, techniques that would allow them to operate safely in whatever circumstances. He also did much to advance the cause of chiropody. It is further stated that T G Barlow's classic paper on congenital dislocation of the hip was Sayle-Creer's brainchild.

Apart from his surgical commitment, strongly supported by his second wife, he did much sterling work for a number of charities. He was President and orthopaedic consultant to the local Spastics Society and he served on the Munro committee which investigated the effects of value-added tax on the price of children's shoes. He also served on innumerable other committees, including the Manchester Medical Advisory Committee and the Medical Appeals Tribunal. A shy man, with a quiet sense of humour and great courage, well shown in his last few months, he was a keen gardener and an outstanding photographer. There are no details of his first marriage, but his second wife, Patricia Gildea, died in 1978 and he then married Dene Goddard in 1983. She survived him, with the one son and three daughters from the second marriage, when he died on 11 April 1984.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1984, 289, 931 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England