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Obituary: Henry Roberts

Eulogy given at the July 2008 meeting of the RCOG Council:

Henry Roberts was a good man, a leader of his profession, and a stalwart friend to this College. Henry was a real Roberts, a Welsh Roberts, with loves of football, rugby and fishing. He was born in 1923, one of seven children, all born at home, to a master mariner in the merchant navy and his wife who lived in Pwelleli.

He enlisted during the war but was discharged due to a duodenal ulcer. This was such a significant problem that by 1949 he had a Bilroth gastrectomy and had lifelong problems with this. He went into Liverpool Medical School and embraced undergraduate life with gusto achieving full colours in football between 1943 and 1945. He played centre half back for the university and indeed played against Everton Reserves locking horns with the legendary Tommy Lawton. He qualified in 1945 and remained in Liverpool training under Jeffcoate. He obtained his MRCOG and MD in 1951 and became a tutor and then a lecturer with consultant status in 1954. His research during this time was with Sir Norman Jeffcoate in incontinence and bladder neck work. He spent six months on a scholarship to America at this time and in 1953 delivered the William Blair Bell memorial lecture at College. In 1956, however, he moved to the Midlands and was appointed as a consultant to West Bromwich group of hospitals. He carried on with this work until 1964 when he was invited by Professor Sir Douglas Hubble and Dr Otto Wolfe both Paediatricians to join the staff of Birmingham Children's Hospital as a gynaecologist specialising in paediatric endocrine gynaecological problems.

Until is retiral in 1988 he continued as one of the leading practitioners in paediatric and adolescent gynaecology, contributing chapters to Jeffcoate's Principles of Gynaecology. He spent the last 20 years of his consultant career as a consultant at Birmingham Women's Hospital and in that time was an RCOG examiner, the postgraduate clinical tutor of the Women's Hospital from 1967 – 74 and an external examiner to Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Leicester, Cambridge, all for the MB. He was Chair of College Scientific and Pathology Committee 1971-74 and was Co-opted to Council. He served on other College Committees and was on the Postgraduate Committee from 1972-81. He was a member of GVS, BMOGS and the North of England O & G Society. Widely loved by patients and staff alike, he was sorely missed when he retired in 1988. I was appointed a consultant in 1988 and for some time after that received referrals from GPs thinking I was he, but sadly could not live up to his expertise in paediatric gynaecology. He retired from work but certainly not from life. He became a registered silversmith, a wood carver, a great art lover, continued with his fishing and his love of rugby. Family remained very important to him but sadly 12 years before his death he developed Parkinson's and this limited his activity to a degree. He, however, remained mentally able until his death and is sadly missed by family, friends and previous colleagues. His son-in-law, John Watts, is carrying on the family tradition as a consultant gynaecologist.

Anthony Roberts