Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Wade, James Stanley Hilary (1916 - 1992)

MC 1941; TD (and Bar) 1955; MRCS 1939; FRCS 1946; MB BCh Cambridge 1939; MA 1945; LRCP 1939.

13 February 1916
15 August 1992
General surgeon


Hilary (Larry) Wade was born on 13 February 1916 at 25 Park Place, Cardiff, the house where his father James (Jimmy) Wade OBE, FRCS (qv Lives of the Fellows 1952-64) a distinguished surgeon and anatomist had lived, and where he himself was to live and practise for over thirty years. His mother Kate, née Jones, was the daughter of a Baptist minister, and his three brothers also qualified as doctors, the eldest, John David Wade FRCS, becoming consultant thoracic surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Larry Wade was educated at Repton School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and then completed his medical studies at University College Hospital, London, where he graduated in 1939. After house appointments at UCH he joined the RAMC, serving in France until the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940. He then went out to the Middle East as regimental medical officer to the King's Dragoon Guards, and in November 1941 he was awarded the MC for bravery in evacuating casualties under heavy fire near Tobruk. From 1942 to 1945 he served as a surgical specialist in Ceylon and India with the rank of major.

On his return to England he passed the FRCS in 1946 and was appointed registrar and then senior registrar in Cardiff. In 1950 he was appointed consultant general surgeon to the United Cardiff Hospitals (with duties also at Pontypridd and the Rhondda) moving later to the new University Hospital of Wales.

Larry Wade's interest in surgery began when he used to accompany his father on visits to the small hospitals in the mining valleys of South Wales and he watched his first operation at the age of 4! He was also an early advocate of thymectomy for myasthenia gravis. Later on he was to develop a major interest in thyroid and parathyroid surgery, gradually building up a national and international reputation in this specialty, and he was to become one of Wales' most distinguished and admired surgeons.

In 1967 he became the first Welsh James IV travelling fellow to the USA and Canada, and he was greatly influenced by visits to endocrine centres such as the Mayo and Lahey Clinics. He was an early proponent of the bloodless exposure of the recurrent laryngeal nerve and parathyroid glands when many regarded this as a risky procedure. He also rationalised the management of laryngeal obstruction after thyroidectomy, recognising that this complication was due to subglottic oedema, and this work was recognised by the award of the Cecil Joll prize in 1978.

Wade was a member of the Court of Examiners from 1968 to 1974 and a member of Council of the College from 1978 to 1986. He was President of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland in 1974, and that same year President of the Section of Surgery of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was an external examiner in surgery for several universities both at home and abroad, President of the Welsh Surgical Society, a founder member of the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and a member of the Grey Turner surgical travelling club.

He remained an active member of the Territorial Army for many years, and was awarded the TD in 1955 and subsequently a Bar. After commanding the 3rd General Hospital he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 203rd (Welsh) General Hospital from 1965 to 1973.

Outside medicine he was an active and accomplished sportsman. A good golfer, his first love was Alpine skiing, which he did regularly, on the last occasion at the age of 76. In the summer he frequently sailed from Dale in Pembrokeshire, and he was a keen Welsh rugby supporter and also interested in cricket and athletics. Larry was an excellent raconteur and a bon viveur, and he lived his life to the full.

He and his wife Joan, née Bentinck, whom he married in 1946, had three sons, one of whom, Peter, is an orthopaedic surgeon in Coventry. Larry died in Cardiff on 15 August 1992 aged 76 from a soft tissue sarcoma of the thigh, and was survived by his wife and family.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1992 305 1219, with portrait; information from his son, Peter Wade FRCS and L E Hughes].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England