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Biographical entry Sharrard, William John Wells (1921 - 2001)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; MB ChB Sheffield 1944; MD 1950; ChM 1966.

8 November 1921
31 March 2001
Orthopaedic surgeon


John ('Harry') Sharrard was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Sheffield. He was born in Lincoln on 8 November 1921, the only survivor of a pair of twins. His father William and mother Winifred (née Wells) were both medical practitioners. His mother had been a brilliant student, winning no fewer than six gold medals. Both his brother and sister also became doctors. As a child he was small and by no means robust. His protective parents discouraged him from sports, so he turned to music, tennis and the cinema. Educated at Lincoln School, he won a King's scholarship to Westminster, where Peter Ustinov and Tony Benn were among his contemporaries. His talent for music became obvious, and he was offered a place as a professional pianist by Sidney Lipton: he had to "choose between the ivories and the bones". He decided on medicine, and went to Sheffield, qualifying in 1944.

He was house surgeon to Sir Frank Holdsworth, did a year as a lecturer in anatomy, and then spent three years in the RAF, reaching the rank of Squadron Leader. He returned to be resident surgical officer at the Royal Hospital, Sheffield, to Blacow Yates, and then specialised in orthopaedics, serving as registrar and senior registrar to Sir Herbert Seddon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. During this time he researched the aftermath of poliomyelitis, working out the relationship between changes in the spinal cord and the effects on muscle in each dermatome. This won him the MD with distinction and later on the ChM with commendation from the University of Sheffield. He was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Sheffield Children's Hospital in 1955, and was later awarded a personal chair in orthopaedics at the University of Sheffield.

John Sharrard won many prizes and distinctions, both in England and abroad. In the College he was an Hunterian Professor in 1956, Arris and Gale lecturer in 1964, Robert Jones lecturer in 1983, and was elected a member of Council in 1980. He was President of the British Orthopaedic Association from 1978 to 1979, and was President and founder of the British Orthopaedic Research Society. During his time on Council he was very active in seeking improvements in surgical training, spending many hours inspecting hospitals for the training board, and cajoling his colleagues to set up proper training rotations.

John married B L Petch in 1953. They had three sons and one daughter. He died on 31 March 2001.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England