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Biographical entry Mottershead, Sidney (1914 - 1998)

MRCS 1938; FRCS 1943; BSc Manchester 1935; MB ChB 1938; MD 1941; FRCS Edinburgh 1976; LRCP 1938.

5 December 1914
10 February 1998
Anatomist and General surgeon


A consultant surgeon in south Teesside, 'Sam' Mottershead was a colourful, amusing and forthright person who contributed much to surgery and was a great exponent of clinical anatomy. He was born in Stockport on 5 December 1914, and received his medical education in Manchester, gaining the Tom Jones prize in anatomy and distinctions in pathology and bacteriology. He qualified in 1938 in both university and conjoint examinations.

After surgical house jobs in Manchester, he joined the anatomy department, working with Frederic Wood Jones and did research on 'glomus bodies' for his MD, having previously gained a BSc in anatomy. He served in the RAMC in India, then returned to Wood Jones's department, before joining the surgical unit at the Newcastle Royal Infirmary as chief assistant. Whilst in Newcastle, he wrote a chapter on the abdomen for the eighth edition of Buchanan's manual of anatomy (London, Bailliere Tindall & Cox, 1950), edited by Wood Jones, who had clearly generated his enthusiasm for the subject.

Appointed consultant general surgeon to south Teeside from 1949 to 1979, he developed special interests in gastro-intestinal problems, breast disease and vascular problems. In the early 1950s, he set up a special clinic for vascular surgery in Teesside.

He always had an interest in postgraduate education and served as regional tutor for the Royal College of Surgeons and as a clinical teacher in the University of Newcastle. For the College, he was a formidable but fair examiner in the primary FRCS in anatomy, and was seen to reduce one international rugby player to a rather 'pallid state'! He also examined for the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and enjoyed the challenge of maintaining standards of basic sciences in Britain and abroad, in Sri Lanka and Baghdad. His interest in and profound knowledge of anatomy led him to become a founder of the British Association of Clinical Anatomists (BACA). At the meetings he gave some excellent papers and could hold his own debating the subject, even with the most experienced medically qualified Professors of Anatomy (a disappearing breed).

Sam was a member of other medical societies, including the Manchester Medical Society and the North of England Surgical Society. He was Chairman of the Middlesborough and Cleveland division of the BMA from 1972 to 1973. He was always trying to improve hospital facilities, and was a valued member of the planning committee of the new South Cleveland Hospital, being the originator of a public appeal for a CT scanner. His farewell to the NHS took the form of a surgical study day, followed by a dinner, at which his infectious wit came to the fore in an after-dinner speech, lasting some 30 minutes without notes.

His marriage to Marjorie née Gibson, who survives him, was very happy. Whenever possible, they escaped to their flat in Majorca. They had three daughters, Susan, Margaret and Jane, and a son, Robert. At the time of his death there were five granddaughters. He died on 10 February 1998.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1998 316 1172, with portrait; information from a member of BACA].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England