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Former consultant neurologist Midlands Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology, Smethwick (b 1920; q Birmingham 1943; MD, FRCP), died from a major stroke on 23 November 2007.
After graduation, Edwin Robert Bickerstaff served in the Royal Air Force’s medical branch in Europe following the D Day landings, eventually heading the RAF’s service for patients with tuberculosis, a topic on which he wrote his MD thesis in 1947. Subsequently, he trained in neurology, and in 1952 obtained a fellowship to spend a year working with Raymond Adams at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and in Harvard University.
Edwin was an outstanding clinical teacher and mentor to medical students and postgraduates alike, and will always be remembered for his description of an unusual form of encephalitis, subsequently called Bickerstaff’s encephalitis, and for his descriptions of basilar migraine. His many original scientific papers, his textbook, entitled Neurological Examination in Clinical Practice (which ran to six editions over 25 years), and his seminal work, entitled Neurological Complications of Oral Contraceptives (1975), won for him a notable national and international reputation. He became a council member and trustee of the Association of British Neurologists, president of the neuroscience section of the Royal Society of Medicine, and an honorary member of the French Neurological Society.
After retirement to Cornwall, he was able to indulge much more in his two major passions—namely, music and golf. He married Clare Woodhall in 1943 and had a son and a daughter; after divorce, he married in 1987 Sara Bramall, daughter of Field Marshall Lord Bramall, who cared for him devotedly through a lengthy terminal illness.