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Biographical entry Owen, Dewi Wyn (1923 - 2016)

MB ChB Liverpool 1957; MRCS LRCP 1957; FRCS 1965; FBMA.

23 February 1923
5 February 2016
General surgeon


Dewi Wyn Owen was a consultant surgeon in Carmarthen, Wales. He was born and brought up in Caernarfon in a Welsh speaking community. He received his primary and secondary education in the Caernarfon area, firstly at the National School and then, in the fifth year, at the Sir Huw Owen Grammar School. He subsequently decided upon a career in medicine and chose to go to Liverpool University which, with its strong links with Wales and the Welsh language, was a natural choice for young people from north Wales. He qualified MB ChB in 1957 and, as was frequently the case in those days, also undertook and passed the conjoint MRCS LRCP.

His house officer posts were undertaken at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool, following which he became a casualty officer at Sefton General Hospital. He then furthered his surgical training by becoming a surgical registrar in this busy district hospital. In 1967 he was promoted to a senior surgical registrar post at Liverpool Royal Infirmary. A significant part of his training in this hospital was under the guidance of John Howell Hughes and David Annis. Here he was prepared for his subsequent career as a consultant surgeon back in Wales, not only because of the breadth of surgical practice he encountered, but also because a significant proportion of the patients on the wards were Welsh speaking (quite often only Welsh speaking), who were transferred from north Wales and Anglesey to the care of Howell Hughes. A registrar on the firm at that time remembers Dewi as being a confident and kind surgeon, always ready to provide advice and support to those working with him.

During this period, he undertook his National Service as a captain in the RAMC. He was based at the RAMC depot in Church Crookham, in Hampshire, where, in addition to his medical duties, his prowess in soccer was recognised and he was recruited into the Corps team.

In 1968 he was appointed to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen as a consultant general surgeon. He lived almost opposite the hospital and colleagues recall that he provided constant high quality service for many years to the community served by the hospital. He was also appointed as an RCS regional adviser to Wales and served in this capacity for several years.

Throughout his professional life he was keenly involved with the British Medical Association and was rewarded for his contribution by being awarded a fellowship.

Around 1991 he resigned from his consultant post to take up a position as a senior medical officer in the Welsh office, where he was able to advise on surgical services for Wales and in particular on the difficult problem of the geographic distribution of surgical resources. He led the task force on reducing junior doctors' hours.

In 1994 he retired from his post at the Welsh Office and was appointed as a member and chair of the Mental Health Act Appeals Panel for Pembrokeshire NHS Trust General Hospital in Haverfordwest. Simultaneously he was a member of Carmarthenshire Community Health Council, becoming chair in 2005. He held these posts until 2008. He was a member of the Welsh Surgical Society and a founder member of the Welsh Surgical Travellers Club.

He was appointed as a tax commissioner for the division of Carmarthen in 1996. He chaired the Carmarthen branch of the United Nations Association and was president of the national council. He also served as a member of the council of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs in Cardiff.

Apart from travel and soccer, his other passion in life was his church. He had been a faithful member of St Peter's Church, Carmarthen since moving to the town. He served as warden for six years, then as warden emeritus. He was also a member of the representative body and the governing body of the Church in Wales.

In 2000, he was team manager of the restoration project for the historic St Peter's Church, obtaining funds totalling £600,000 from the Heritage Lottery, Cadw (the historic environment division of the Welsh Government) and organised fundraising events including sponsored long-distance walks which were his forte. He sang in the choir, which gave him much pleasure to the end of his life, being able to participate in the carol concert held at Christmas 2015.

Dewi married Non, a physiotherapist, in 1959, and they had a daughter, Sian, who is a community paediatrician in Gwynedd, and a son, Huw, a news and current affairs producer and manager at the BBC. There are three grandchildren - Sion, Hannah and Roma - of whom he was enormously proud.

He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in 2010 and accepted with gratitude his ability to enjoy the things that were important to him despite the limitations. Following several courses of successful treatment, it eventually overwhelmed him. Dewi died on 5 February 2016. He was 82. He is remembered as an exceptionally kind and generous friend to the surgical world in Wales.

Sir Miles Irving

Sources used to compile this entry: [Rhiannon Owen; Peter Milewski; Chris Mason; Forbes Rintoul].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England