Leslie Ernest Hughes

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 25 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7367
  1. Bronwyn R Hughes,
  2. David Webster

Leslie Ernest Hughes (“Les”) was a quiet, self effacing man, whose integrity and deep Christian belief informed his work. He made an indelible impression on those who worked with and for him. His modesty sometimes led to a lack of appreciation of his talents by his colleagues. His wide influence is apparent in the many other professors, both in the United Kingdom and abroad—especially in Australia and India—who owe much to his guidance during their time in his department.

Les was the fifth of eight children born to Charles and Dorothy Hughes in Parramatta, New South Wales. His father was a tailor and always told his children what a tough childhood he’d had. After finishing at Parramatta high school Les gained a place to study agricultural science at Sydney University as his wish was to farm. However, his older brother Walter, a medical student, persuaded him that medicine was a better option and he transferred in his second year. He graduated in 1954 and married Marian Castle, a fellow medical graduate.

After a surgical registrar post at Concorde Hospital, Sydney, he moved to the UK and worked initially at Derby City Hospital and then West Middlesex Hospital. During these clinical posts he gained his love of surgery—and was never more happy than when taking responsibility for all the surgical cases in the hospital and operating through the night. During the holidays he explored Europe and particularly enjoyed travelling extensively through eastern Europe in a campervan with Marian. In 1962 he was appointed cancer research fellow at King’s College Hospital and developed his research interest. By chance he met Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement, and helped her with some studies. It was fitting that he was able to benefit from hospice care at the end of …

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