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Biographical entry Havers-Strong, John Richard (1934 - 2017)

BChir Cambridge 1958; MB 1959; DO 1967; FRCS 1969; FRCOphth 1988.

18 August 1934
11 May 2017
Opthalmic surgeon


John Richard Havers-Strong, generally known as Richard Strong, was a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Conquest Hospital, St Leonards-on-Sea. Educated at Oundle School and Queens' College, Cambridge, where his father had attended 30 years previously, Richard became energetically involved in rowing, canoeing and mountaineering, as well as the Cambridge Union. He studied medicine, although none of his immediate relatives were doctors, however he could claim the physician Clopton Havers (the first to describe Haversian canals in compact bone tissue) as an ancestor. He completed his training at St Bartholomew's Hospital, qualifying in 1959. There followed National Service in the RAMC, which he greatly enjoyed and which saw him posted to Libya and Cyprus.

Tall, elegant, debonair with a military bearing and a penchant for three piece suits, a fob watch and even at times a monocle, he chose ophthalmology as a specialty and went on to train at Moorfields. He is remembered as a competent eye surgeon and a loyal colleague with a great sense of humour and fun, combined with a sharp wit. Richard was a very talented artist, whose clinical drawings brightened up the hospital notes and many also recall his much-admired vintage 1920s Bentley.

He gained his FRCS in 1970 (and his FRCOphth in 1988) and, after a spell as a senior registrar at Bart's, in 1973 he was appointed as a consultant ophthalmic surgeon to the Royal East Sussex Hospital (later the Conquest Hospital), where he ran general ophthalmic clinics and operating sessions, and had a special interest in reconstructive surgery. He was head of the surgical division and combined his busy NHS work with a small private practice.

He was married to Erika (née Hauke) and, shortly after his retirement from clinical practice in 1997, the family moved to France, to a small restored farmhouse overlooking the Pyrenees in the Department of Aude. This was the fulfilment of a lifelong love affair with France, which began at the age of 18 when he canoed from Calais to the Mediterranean with a friend and from there, via the Canal du Midi, to Bordeaux - a summer adventure which lasted two months. In his retirement, he devoted much of his time to painting and sculpture, leaving behind a superb collection of work. Richard Strong died on 11 May 2017, aged 82, and was survived by his wife, four children and their nine grandchildren, for whom he was a wonderful father and grandfather.

Timothy ffytche

Sources used to compile this entry: [Erika Havers-Strong; Don Lloyd-Jones; Queens' College, Cambridge; information from other colleagues].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England