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Biographical entry Ward, Sir Terence George (1906 - 1991)

Kt 1971; CBE 1961; MBE 1945; FRCS by election 1970; FDSRCS 1949; FFDRCSI; LDS LRCPS Edinburgh 1928; LRFPS Glasgow 1930.

16 January 1906
30 September 1991
Dental surgeon, Maxillofacial surgeon and Oral surgeon


Terence Ward was born in Dartmouth on 16 January 1906, the son of a school teacher. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Edinburgh, where he was educated at the Royal High School. Wishing to pursue a career in dentistry, but with only limited means, he became apprenticed as a dental mechanic, and was then able to enter Edinburgh University, where he qualified in both medicine and dentistry in 1928.

In 1931 he married Elizabeth (Betty) Wilson, a fellow dental surgeon, and they then moved to Hastings where he practised dentistry for the next nine years, becoming increasingly interested in its surgical aspects.

In 1940 he joined the dental branch of the RAF where he came under the influence of Kelsey Fry, who was also to become his lifelong friend. As a squadron leader at RAF Cosford, working in close collaboration with Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, he became increasingly involved in treating the maxillofacial injuries of aircrew. In 1945 he was appointed head of the maxillofacial unit at East Grinstead and was awarded the MBE (Mil) for his wartime services. In 1948 he was appointed consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Queen Victoria Hospital, which was to become a centre of excellence for this specialty under his leadership.

He was to achieve a worldwide reputation as surgeon, teacher and administrator, and many aspiring young surgeons from overseas came to his unit to gain experience. He always demanded the highest surgical standards from them and inspired team-work and loyalty in his trainees. He was also an innovative surgeon, designing many of his own instruments, some of which are still used today, and he established a tumour biopsy service and the teratology research unit at Downe in Kent.

As consultant adviser to the Ministry of Health he used his considerable influence in political circles to maintain and advance the training standards and range of maxillofacial surgery, and he played a leading rĂ´le in the development of hospital dentistry in the NHS. His greatest attribute was perhaps his visionary zeal - he had the ability to see what needed to be done to advance his specialty - and then the determination to achieve that goal.

In 1948 he became a founder fellow of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and later its outstanding dean from 1965 to 1968. In 1962 he was elected the first President of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and in 1970 he became President of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

He served on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and received many honours and awards from overseas universities. He was appointed CBE in 1961 and knighted in 1971. These honours, however, never affected his quiet dignity and modesty, and although a forceful personality he remained essentially a private person. Though he drove himself hard, when the day's work was over Ward was a man of mischief and, in the many pastimes he enjoyed, not above a little cheating if necessary. On one occasion he 'borrowed' a mackerel from the local fishmonger in order to bolster his catch in a hospital fishing competition. 'Throw it to me' he told the puzzled vendor, 'I have to say I caught it'.

He retained links with all three armed services, being consultant oral surgeon to the RAF and the Royal Navy, and emeritus surgeon to the army. He established a medical centre at Kaduna for the treatment of facial injuries resulting from the Nigerian civil war.

His first wife Betty died in 1981, and he later married Sheila Lawry, who survived him, together with a son and a daughter from his first marriage. He died aged 85 on 30 September 1991 at Bexhill-on-Sea.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times October 1991; Independent 8 October 1991; BMJ 1991 303 1263, all with portraits].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England