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Biographical entry Hughes, Robert Arthur (1910 - 1996)

OBE 1962; MRCS 1936; FRCS 1937; MB ChB Liverpool 1933; DTMH 1938; LRCP 1936.

3 December 1910
Oswestry, Shropshire
1 June 1996
General surgeon


Arthur Hughes was born at Oswestry in Shropshire on 3 December 1910, the son of the Reverend Hywel Hughes, a Welsh Presbyterian minister, and his wife Myfanwy; he was a twin and his brother John also became a minister in their father's church. His schooling was rather peripatetic because of his parents' frequent moves, but he finally settled in John Bright's Grammar School in Llandudno, whence he entered the medical school of the University of Liverpool, graduating MB ChB in 1933. After house jobs at the Royal Southern Hospital he became surgical registrar at the Northern Hospital where he met an English ward sister, Nancy Wright, who somewhat undermined his stoical Welsh nationalism. Arthur obtained the conjoint diploma in 1936 and the FRCS in the following year. In 1939 Arthur married Nancy, the marriage was a long and extremely happy one, and they had one son, John, who also became a doctor.

Shortly after their wedding Arthur and Nancy volunteered to join Dr Roberts at the Khasi Hills Welsh Mission Hospital in Shillong, Assam, and they remained there for thirty years. They were devoted to the village people, who in turn venerated them, and they established centres for the treatment of malaria, rickets and infant hypoproteinaemia. In 1942 Hughes became consultant surgeon and chief medical officer and during the war treated many hundreds of British prisoners working on the construction of the notorious Burma Road. The Khasi Hill Hospital was small but with great care and diplomacy Arthur planned and obtained funds for a fine new modern hospital which under his guidance became recognised as a centre of excellence, and in 1962 he was awarded an OBE for his services.

He and Nancy returned permanently to Liverpool in 1969 and Hughes accepted the new post of Sub-Dean in the Faculty of Medicine, which proved to be a great success: he finally retired in 1976. In 1991 Arthur and Nancy were invited to return to the Khasi Hills Hospital to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mission's establishment. They received a most enthusiastic welcome and Arthur had to address a congregation of about 300,000 people. In his retirement Hughes became very involved as an Elder in his church and despite deteriorating health accepted the call to be Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Wales from 1992 to 1993.

This gently, unassuming Christian man died on 1 June 1996, aged 85.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Daily Telegraph, 15 July 1996].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England