Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Kirkman, Noel Fereday (1911 - 1995)

OBE 1989; MRCS 1934; FRCS 1942; MB ChB Manchester 1934; MD 1938; LRCP 1934.

11 March 1911
13 November 1995
General surgeon and Mountaineer


Noel Kirkman was born in Boothroydon, near Blackpool, on 11 March 1911, the son of William Harold Kirkman, the owner of a small wrought iron works, and Lavinia, née Fereday, one of whose ancestors was Samuel Day Fereday, a general surgeon in Dudley, Worcestershire (1800-1874). He was educated at Wesbourne House School, Baines's Grammar School in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, and Manchester University Medical School, where he won the clinical prize as well as the BMA clinical prize in 1934. He was house surgeon and house physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and later house surgeon at Ancoats Hospital to Peter McEvedy, who stimulated his interest in surgery, but he was also much influenced by James MacAlpine, H T Cox and Alan Nicholson. He became a lecturer in applied anatomy and was later resident surgical officer at Salford Royal Hospital.

He joined the RAF in 1942 and served until 1946, reaching the rank of squadron leader. Later he held appointments at University College London , the Research and Education Hospital, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Guy's Hospital. He was appointed consultant surgeon to the Withington Hospital and the Duchess of York Hospital, Manchester from 1955 to 1976. He was President of the Section of Surgery of Manchester Medical Society in 1944 and Chairman of the Northwest Section of Surgeons. With a life-long interest in mountaineering, he became one of the leading figures in the post-war development of the Mountain Rescue Service in Britain, having been invited to join the Mountain Rescue Committee by Wilson Hey. During the period from 1950 to 1985 he converted this informal committee into a charitable trust, and developed it into a countrywide organisation, of which he was to become chairman from 1972 until 1985. During this time he organised and coordinated the services of the various official Mountain Rescue Teams in England and Wales, and negotiated with official and Government bodies such as the Sports Council.

He married first in 1958 Patricia Mary, née Billington, by whom he had a daughter, Julia Ruth, and a son, William Robert, a ski guide for the Ski Club of Great Britain. Patricia died in 1980 and he married Marian Mary Kerr, a widow, in 1986.

His great interests were climbing and organising the Mountain Rescue Service, for which he was awarded the OBE in 1989. He was also a water colourist of distinction and a member of the RSWA. He died following a stroke on 13 November 1995.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1996 312 245, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England