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Biographical entry Plewes, Lawrence William (1908 - 1991)

CBE; Hon FRCS 1960; BA Toronto 1929; MD 1932; MA 1933; FRCS Edinburgh 1934.

17 November 1908
Hans Harbour, New Foundland
17 July 1991
Orthopaedic surgeon and Rehabilitation specialist


Laurie was born in Hans Harbour, Newfoundland, on 17 November 1908 and trained at the University of Toronto School. His mother was Ethel, née Burns, a nurse, and his father was a GP and surgeon, a founder-member of the Toronto East General Hospital. His eldest son followed him as surgeon in charge.

Laurie came to England in 1933 as a Rockefeller scholar and worked in Birmingham and at the Wingfield Morris Orthopaedic Hospital as Nuffield Scholar in orthopaedics - where he made a lasting impression. He was appointed to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 1939, the year in which it opened. There he persuaded Vauxhall Motors to set up exemplary facilities for injured workers, pioneered the LeDun sheltered workshop for those severely disabled, and treated many hundreds of motorway and other road accident casualties.

His life's work on rehabilitation of the injured, during which he was Chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Labour on employment of disabled persons, and consultant in rehabilitation to the World Health Organisation, was recognised by the award of the CBE in 1956 and the honorary FRCS in 1963.

He wrote many articles, mainly on trauma and rehabilitation. In 1937 he married Faith Downing, a physiotherapist. They had two sons, the elder of whom, J L Plewes, qualified with the FRCS and took charge of the Birmingham Accident Hospital. Laurie Plewes died on 17 July 1991.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1992 304 443].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England