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Biographical entry Scrivener, Barrie Pedder (1927 - 2000)

MRCS and FRCS 1958; MB BS Sydney 1950; DLO 1956; FRCS Edinburgh 1956; FRACS 1957.

3 August 1927
Mount Irvine
13 October 2000
ENT surgeon


Barrie Pedder Scrivener, or 'Baz', was a distinguished otolaryngologist based in Sydney. He was born at Mount Irvine in the Blue Mountains on 3 August 1927. His father, Percy Pedder Scrivener, was town clerk at Katoomba, and had won the Military Cross at Gallipoli. His grandfather, Charles Scrivener, had been Commonwealth Surveyor General, and was responsible for selecting and surveying the site for Canberra. His mother was Mary Hindmarsh. He was educated at Katoomba Public High School, from which he won a scholarship to Scots College in Sydney, answering the examination paper in faultless Latin. At Scots College he developed a keen interest in French, and won the Garton scholarship and an open exhibition to Sydney University.

After qualifying, he became a resident medical officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where he met his future wife, Margaret ('Mimi') Helsen, who was a nurse. They married in 1955. Specialising in ENT, he received the diploma in otolaryngology at Sydney University in 1956. He was at once appointed to the staff of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, but immediately given leave to go to London for further studies. There he passed the English and Edinburgh Fellowships and, on returning to Sydney, established a flourishing ENT practice.

In 1976, at the height of his successful career in private practice, he took a most unusual step. He sought leave to visit the ear institute of the University of Bordeaux, where Michel Portmann was pioneering the newly developing science of neuro-otology. A penurious student once more, Baz and Mimi sent their two daughters to a local convent (where they soon picked up French) and Mimi helped make ends meet by acting as a translator for the British consulate. Armed with his new expertise, Baz returned to Sydney to work in close collaboration with John Segelov, a neurosurgeon, to develop cochlear implantation and skull base surgery. Baz schemed for the next decade to set up a chair of otolaryngology at Sydney University: the foundation professor was William Gibson, one of his fellow students in Bordeaux.

His wife shared his love of all things French, and on their return to Sydney they opened a French restaurant in Glebe, Petit Bacchus. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to medicine, and a Barrie Scrivener Fellowship was established in his memory. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, Janet and Sarah, and five grandchildren. He died on 13 October 2000.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Sydney Morning Herald 18 November 2000].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England