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Biographical entry Yarwood, George Roy (1914 - 1996)

MRCS and FRCS 1949; MB ChB Birmingham 1938.

November 1996
General practitioner and General surgeon


Roy Yarwood was born in 1914 and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he excelled at shooting, becoming school captain, and also won a medal as a member of the gymnastics team; he went on to continue his shooting career at University and again distinguished himself.

He entered Birmingham Medical School in 1932 and qualified without any difficulty in 1937. He did his house officer jobs at the Birmingham General Hospital, and enlisted in the army at the outbreak of the second world war in 1939. His military service was both varied and interesting; he served on troop ships going to India, and was then posted to Liverpool before serving in Nigeria for one year. In 1944 he became part of the Second Front Expeditionary Force crossing with the troops to France on D-Day + 12, accompanying them through France and subsequently crossing the Rhine. He was surgical specialist in charge of a field surgical unit in the British Land Army and attained the rank of major. On returning to the UK he was appointed officer in charge of the surgical division of Lincoln Military Hospital, before being demobilised in 1945, just after the capitulation of Japan. Had it not been for the end of the war in the Far East, he was due for posting to that arena.

After the war, Roy was a locum general practitioner for a short time, but had always intended to follow a surgical career. He obtained a number of registrar posts, and gained an attachment at Guy's Hospital to further his surgical training, passing the examination for the Fellowship of the College in 1949. He was appointed resident surgical officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, in 1950 and held this post for five years. This provided excellent experience, not only in dealing with a wide range of emergency conditions, but working with a number of consultant surgeons. In 1954 he moved to a similar job at Dudley Road Hospital, and was the senior surgical resident for five years, working with Kenneth O Parsons and Louis Aldridge. He then obtained his consultant post at the same hospital on 19 July 1958.

In his 22 years as consultant surgeon at Dudley Road Hospital, his work covered a wide spectrum of general surgery; during his first ten years, before the advent of orthopaedic surgeons, he played an active part in the casualty department, and ran a weekly fracture clinic. He gained a well-deserved reputation for his contribution to gastric and thyroid surgery and was a quick, neat and safe operator with a very low complication rate. He had always shown himself to be interested in clinical teaching and had run a series of excellent Fellowship rounds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and he took great trouble in teaching and encouraging his medical students, when undergraduate teaching came to the Dudley Road Hospital. He was a clear and concise lecturer, and his neat handwriting exemplified his approach to his work. During his years at Dudley Road, the hospital dealt with a large number of Birmingham's emergencies, and it is appropriate that the name of the hospital has been changed in recent years to the City Hospital. Roy was known for sound judgement and sound technique in dealing with his emergency load.

He had many interests outside his clinical work, and developed a wide medico-legal practice. He maintained that he enjoyed the tussles in Court with learned members of the legal profession, especially in his more senior years when he found himself older than the Judge! He was also a connoisseur of vintage cars of classical make and impressed his colleagues and patients alike by running in turn a Rolls-Bentley, a Daimler and a Rolls. It was a great sadness to him that he had bought a spacious new Volvo shortly before his first stroke, which he was only able to drive for a limited period. He also enjoyed playing the financial markets which he regarded as a game, and which provided him with another area of expertise.

He married Mary on 2 September 1941. They met while she was working as a theatre sister at the Birmingham General Hospital and, during the Blitz, had to work in a temporary theatre in Lewis's basement. Their son Ian was born in 1946 and became a chartered accountant and their daughter, Jean, qualified as a teacher, working in a school for children with learning difficulties.

Roy suffered his first stroke on Boxing Day 1993, and a second one six months later. His last year was fraught by a serious malignancy in one eye with inexorable spread of the cancer, and his death in November 1996 was to be a merciful release. Mary pre-deceased him by three days, and surely would have found it difficult to carry on without him. They were survived by their children and five grandchildren, and one grandson delighted them by becoming a medical student at Leeds Medical School.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Aesculapius, August 1997 17 50-51, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England