Sir Herbert Seddon was, above all else, a surgeon. Indeed, there are few surgeons of Sir Herbert Seddon’s generation who have made such an important contribution to their specialty.
The gifted and dedicated professional was a pioneer in two fields of surgery – first making groundbreaking advances in the understanding and treatment of tuberculosis and poliomyelitis, where many of his patients were children. He then went on to make great advances in the repair of peripheral nerve injuries that improved the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers.
Sir Herbert – known to friends as Jim – was born in July 1903 in Derby and spent his childhood in Manchester before studying at the medical college at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, graduating MB, BS London University in 1928 and in the same year gaining the FRCS. In 1930 he took up the post of instructor in surgery at the University of Michigan where he met his future wife Mary Lytle, an art graduate. The couple went on to have two children, Sally and James.
He returned home in 1931 when he was appointed resident surgeon to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, Middlesex.
Sir Herbert’s career achievements were many. He became the first professor of orthopaedics at the University of London in 1948, he was president of the British Orthopaedic Association from 1960-1961, he was knighted in 1964 and made an honorary fellow of Worcester College in 1966. His work took him around the world, including on extensive tours of Africa as a member of the Advisory Medical Council of the Colonial Office.
And while he spent long hours working in his specialist field, Sir Herbert also found time to indulge his other interests. He was a keen climber, gardener, photographer and painter who became accomplished in these pursuits by employing the same determined approach he used in his work.