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Biographical entry Hennebry, Thomas Michael (1913 - 1997)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; MB BCh BAO NUI 1937; LM 1937; DMRE 1939; MCh 1950; FRCSI 1940.

Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland
4 February 1997
General surgeon


Thomas Michael Hennebry was born in Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland in 1913, the son of Michael Hennebry, a wine importer. He was educated at Castleknock College, Dublin, and University College, Dublin. He qualified with honours in 1937, taking the McCardle prize in surgery and the O'Farrell gold medal. He went on to a house surgeon appointment at St Vincent's Hospital, under surgeons Meade and Doolin. He took his Irish Fellowship in 1940, having taken the primary as an undergraduate (then allowed).

His first hospital post in England was at Birkenhead Municipal Hospital. He then went on to Sefton General Liverpool. He moved to London, describing how he drove his Austin Seven to London through the deepest of peasouper fogs. He became a surgeon specialist in the Emergency Medical Service, operating in many London hospitals covering the Blitz. In June 1943, he was commissioned into the RAMC, serving throughout the Italian campaign, mainly in field surgical teams. He was promoted to Major in December 1944 and demobilised in 1946.

He returned to civilian surgery as registrar to the Royal National Orthopaedic and Eltham Hall Hospitals and in 1947 became first assistant under Ferguson at the West Middlesex Hospital. As there was no reciprocity with the Irish College then, he had to repeat both the primary and final examinations to take our Fellowship in 1950.

In the same year, he was appointed consultant general surgeon to the North Middlesex Hospital, where he served with loyalty and dedication until his retirement in 1978. His training allowed him to practice a wide range of surgery, including abdominal, orthopaedic, trauma and endocrine surgery. He developed a great experience in thyroidectomy, which showed his operative ability to best advantage. He remained consultant in charge of the casualty department until his retirement, training and supporting the junior staff and offering reassurance to his colleagues. He taught his registrars by example, and a succession of successful Fellowship candidates bore witness to his work. Of lasting benefit to the hospital was his arrangement of a senior registrar rotation with St Bartholomew's Hospital, terminated on the incredible closure of Bart's. He also supported the clinical meetings of the North East Metropolitan Surgical Society and the College Fellowship courses.

He had a flare for organisation, exhibited in committee work at the hospital, on the regional board and area authority. He served on the executive council of the BMA, playing a great part in developing the improved contract for consultants in 1972.

Sport was a lifelong interest for him. At college, he was a keen rugby player, and later took up hockey and tennis (real and lawn). In his forties he became a golfer, becoming captain of Royal Mid-Surrey and president in its centenary year. He was secretary of London Irish Golf Society for 20 years. He served his Irish connections loyally, reviving the NUI Club after a major fire. He was chairman of the NUI Dining Club and the Irish Club. He acted as medical adviser to the Benedictine Abbey in Ealing, where his boys were educated.

He married Sheila Allison from Norton, County Durham, a former house surgeon, who survived him with their family of four sons and two daughters, one of whom is a registrar in anaesthetics. There are seven grandchildren. He died on 4 February 1997 aged 84, from the complications of an aortic aneurysm, and was buried at the family grave at Tramore.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Rodney Croft and M McCormack; BMJ 1997 315 256-257, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England