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Biographical entry Sawyer, George Clayfield (1909 - 1987)

MRCS 1932; FRCS 1935; MB BS London 1934; MS 1941; LRCP 1932.

14 August 1909
20 April 1987
General surgeon


George Clayfield Sawyer was born on 14 August 1909 in Portsmouth where his father was a sports journalist, later becoming Clerk to the local Medical Committee before the introduction of the NHS. He was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and Guy's Hospital. Deciding on a career in surgery he held appointments in Southampton and Southend and at the West London, Bolingbroke, and Charing Cross Hospitals when he was influenced by Zachary Cope, Geoffrey Keynes, Norman Lake and David Trevor.

At the outbreak of war he joined the RAF as a surgical specialist and was soon posted to India where he spent most of the time in Karachi. It was there that he developed his lifelong love of sailing. He retired with the rank of Wing Commander and on returning to England was appointed to the consultant staff of Leicester Royal Infirmary, serving also Leicester General Hospital, the Hinckley Hospital and the Rutland Memorial Hospital, Oakham.

He had a wide range of surgical interests, particularly the lower bowel and the pancreas. He was a wise doctor who is remembered by his colleagues and patients for his kindness and his phenomenal memory. He always knew the names of all the nurses who worked with him. His clinical notes were often amusing and aimed at jogging his memory (such as "keeps cats" or "runs a corner shop") so that he could start a relevant conversation to put the patient at ease. He invariably saw the relatives to impart bad news and would sit with them when bereaved.

George was a successful President of the Leicester Medical Society and he established the East Midlands Ileostomy Association, becoming its first President. He was a Fellow of the Association of Medicine, holding office in the Section of Proctology. From 1969 to 1975 he was a member of the Court of Examiners of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He retired from his consultant posts in 1974 and was honoured by being created an emeritus surgeon.

He had many interests apart from surgery, but foremost he was a sailor, first on Pitsford reservoir but later he shared an ocean going yacht sailing in the Mediterranean, off the Brittany coast and in Irish waters. In his retirement to Fareham his boat was moored within yards of his front door until arthritis caused him to become shore bound. He was a keen medical and local historian. He had a natural curiosity about the world around him and he was a fund of interesting information.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, whom he married before the second world war, and two daughters, one a lecturer in nursing sciences at Reading University, the other a midwife, and a son who is a family doctor in Portsmouth. One granddaughter is a nurse who trained at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

George was active until his sudden death on 20 April 1987.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1987, 1, 1557 with portrait; information from K F Wood, FRCS]


The Royal College of Surgeons of England