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Biographical entry Wynn-Williams, David (1914 - 1998)

MRCS 1940; FRCS 1945; MB BS London 1940; MS 1949; LRCP 1940.

16 August 1914
21 December 1998
Plastic surgeon


David Wynn-Williams was a consultant plastic surgeon at Nottingham Hospital. Born on 16 August 1914, his father was a general practitioner in Middlesborough. David was a medical student at the Westminster at the same time as his brother, George, who became a gynaecologist at the Chelsea Hospital for Women. David qualified in 1940 and then worked at the Westminster all through the Blitz as a casualty officer. He then joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve and spent the first two years as medical officer on the Queen Elizabeth on her Atlantic crossings. His next posting was to Germany, where he met his wife to be, Anne Nettlefold. He was subsequently posted to Egypt.

He returned to the Westminster to train in surgery. He was senior registrar with Charles Drew and Lockhart Mummery. When the three submitted MS theses, only Wynn Williams was successful, but unlike the other two he was not appointed as a London consultant. He turned instead to train in plastic surgery, which he did with Sir Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead. Nicknamed 'the Welsh wizard', he is remembered there as a larger than life character, and an enthusiastic and busy surgeon.

There were two candidates for a consultant plastic surgeon post at Nottingham in 1955. The other candidate was Jack Mustarde from Glasgow, who flew down for the interview, but David was appointed, as he was willing to take on the resuscitation of patients with burns. However, he was not given any beds and merely did clinics for the first year, by which time there was an enormous waiting list. Eventually beds and operating sessions were found. He worked on his own for 20 years, covering a vast area with distant clinics, including in Derby, Mansfield and Grantham. He also had a London practice. He was a skilled and rapid operator, a kindly man and a delightful companion. Eventually a second consultant plastic surgeon was appointed in 1971.

In the late seventies, he was unwell and away on sick leave, until he retired in 1979. He underwent a gastrectomy for carcinoma. David was always interested in country pursuits, including shooting, national hunt racing and point-to-point, where he was a popular commentator. His son, Rhydain, a writer, continues this family interest in racing. David Wynn-Williams died on 21 December 1998, survived by his wife, son and daughter, Anne.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 23 December 1998, without memoir].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England