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Biographical entry Ticehurst, Richard Norman (1917 - 2016)

MRCS LRCP 1942; MB Bchir Cambridge 1943; FRCS 1948; Mchir 1952.

3 November 1917
12 March 2016
General surgeon and Urologist


Richard Ticehurst was a consultant general surgeon and urologist in Hastings, Sussex. He was born on 3 November 1917 into an old medical Sussex family renowned for its expertise in English wildlife, his father having written the seminal work on swans. He had an older brother, Hugh, who became a local farmer, and a younger sister, Annie.

After a preparatory school in St Leonards-on-Sea, he won a scholarship to Tonbridge School, from where he read medicine at Clare College, Cambridge (his father's old college). His clinical training was at Guy's Hospital, where he was the fourth generation of Ticehursts to qualify. He remembered that his obstetric training included borrowing the hospital bicycle and attending deliveries in homes among the poor, cobbled streets of Southwark.

National Service was performed as a ship's doctor in the Royal Navy, stationed mainly in the China Seas.

His family had been surgeons in Hastings for two generations and he had accompanied his father on ward rounds when he was a child in short trousers. On his father's retirement, he duly applied for the family post. His reference said simply 'this man has the best pair of hands in London' and his interview committee consisted of a hospital manager, his father and his grandfather. He was, not surprisingly, appointed and worked for many years at the Royal East Sussex Hospital in Hastings.

He was an excellent surgeon, always calm, swift, confident and very skilful, but with the idiosyncrasy that, being a fisherman, he used only fishing catgut. He proved an equally good colleague. He had no desire to build empires, pretend to be a manager or to amass a fortune: he was simply a first class and committed surgeon.

Country pursuits were in his blood. He began hunting at Cambridge, running with the university beagles and eventually becoming their whipper in, which he continued in Sussex. Richard was renowned as an excellent shot. He was a member of several local shoots and bagged his last pheasant at the age of 95. He fished, often in Scotland, mainly on the Spey, where he often rented a cottage from the Duke of Gordon. He was still fishing (to the horror of the local gillies) when he was 91. When he retired, he retreated to his beloved, rather ramshackle, cottage in the country, where he devoted himself to his garden and to country life. He was never sociable, but had a few good friends and was always generous with the odd brace of pheasant.

Richard Ticehurst was the epitome of an English country gentleman. He had been an excellent, well-respected surgeon. He was a kind, gentle and modest man but, behind a shy, reticent exterior, he had a clear, intelligent mind and a prodigious memory. He spent his last few months in a care home, where he died peacefully on 12 March 2016. He was 98.

A J Dyson

The Royal College of Surgeons of England