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Obituary: Margaret Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson was born in Scotland in 1932. After studying at Forres Academy she went to Edinburgh University where she graduated MB ChB in 1956. She departed Edinburgh some three years later to seek educational enlightenment in the land of the Sassenach.

Her introduction to Obstetrics and Gynaecology was at the Hammersmith from where she progressed to registrar and senior registrar at St Mary's Hospital, that breeding ground for so many of our illustrious colleagues

She was the first female registrar ever appointed to St Mary's.

By 1967 she had been appointed consultant at the Lewisham Hospital where her dedication to her patients, her clinical excellence and her constant availability by day and night meant that her colleagues turned to her if any female members of the family needed care.

Though never having children of her own she acquired a host of godchildren of whom she was extremely fond.

Friends and colleagues describe her as exceptional, remarkable, immaculate and determined, charming, witty and great fun.

Despite her full clinical workload she found time to make major contributions to the development of our profession, contributing to several textbooks. She sat as member or chair of many hospital and regional committees. She was a council member of the Medical Defence Union and a member of the Scientific Committee of the National Birthday Trust. I am told that though not inflexible once she had made up her mind to something she was not easily swayed!

In 1991 she was elected the second female Vice President of the RCOG and became a member of the Department of Health Expert Maternity Group chaired by Baroness Cumberlege. Their report in 1993 entitled Changing Childbirth has led to a radical change in the way Maternity care is viewed in the United Kingdom. I have heard her described as the College's mole in the Department of Health.

For her Departmental work and her service to medicine Mary Anderson was awarded the CBE in the Queens Birthday Honours of 1996.

Away from the work scene she was a charming hostess at her Blackheath cottage. She was an avid gardener and a formidable fisherman. Images of her up to the armpits in the River Tweed have been shared.

She never lost her love for Scotland which she visited often, partaking of a wee dram of the national beverage with her close friends.

Alastair Fraser her longstanding colleague and friend says,” the Mary I knew, admired by many for her work, was really a person to be loved for herself alone. She was gentle without false sentiment and sincere in her concern for the well-being of all.”

Many friends and colleagues travelled from London in appalling weather to her funeral in the beautiful Benedictine Abbey at Pluscarden near Elgin. Among them was Paul Barnett our previous College secretary. I know that he and the college executive officers found Mary a delightful person to work for. We mourn the passing of a greatly respected lady of our profession.

Laura Cassidy, March 2006