John Drew Hamer (M 1960)

Consultant Surgeon Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer to the University of Birmingham 1972-1994 (b Nuneaton 1935, q Birmingham 1960; BSc ChM FRCS), died at home after a brief illness on the 1 September 2005.

John Hamer was born and brought up in Nuneaton as the only son of John Llewellyn Hamer and Mabel Irene Hamer. His father was Headmaster of Galley Common School in Nuneaton, and his mother was formerly the Matron at Taunton School. John developed an interest in practical hobbies early in his life, and notwithstanding the privations of the war years, was able to build model cars and model aeroplanes, his manual skills being largely self-taught. By his own admission he was an average scholar at school, but did gain entry to King Edwards VIII School in Nuneaton. During this time he was an able sprinter, being both Warwickshire and Midland Counties champion over 100 yards. He also had considerable stamina, and was regularly able to cycle over 100 miles from Nuneaton to visit friends in St Annes on the Lancashire coast.

John attended the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1954, meeting his future wife, Angela Buckley, at the same Dissecting Room table. He was awarded an undergraduate scholarship in 1956, and studied for a BSc in anatomy at the University of Birmingham in 1957. He presented a thesis on “skin transplantation in the rat” for his degree as a result.

He was awarded his MB ChB in 1960, working as a Pre-registration House Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Professor Brian Brooke and Mr Oliver Mansfield. In 1961 he was House Physician to Professor Whitfield and Dr Brian Taylor, and then worked as a House Surgeon for Professor Hugh McClaren.

John did not pursue a surgical career straight away, and worked as an Assistant General Practitioner in Aldridge, Staffordshire, and then as a full partner with Dr Boyd Stirling. He soon realised that general practice was not for him, and was able to secure a post as Registrar in Orthopaedics and Trauma at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. He then became Registrar in General Surgery to the United Birmingham Hospitals, working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the General Hospital and the Children’s Hospital, until he was appointed as Resident Surgical Officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1968.

He was appointed as Lecturer in Surgery to the University of Birmingham in 1969, being promoted to Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Surgeon in 1972. During this time he was able to submit a further thesis on “experimental arterial embolism” to the University of Birmingham, for which he was awarded the degree of Master of Surgery. He was appointed to his post as Consultant General Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1975, sharing Ward West Two at the Queen Elizabeth with Mr Victor Brookes.

During his career he developed a speciality interest in vascular surgery, which led to the development of the Vascular Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. His particular interest was in carotid artery surgery and intra-operative cerebral monitoring. Outside his regular clinical practice he made significant contributions to hospital management. He was Chairman of the Division of Surgery and latterly the Clinical Lead for Vascular Surgery. He was Secretary of the West Midlands Surgical Society and an active member of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland.

He maintained his connections with the University of Birmingham as an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer. He was a committed and well liked teacher of medical students and surgical trainees.

John’s interest in things practical extended outside work, and for relaxation he could often be heard creating items of furniture in his workshop. Not only did he manufacture furniture for his family, but his work was of such a high standard that he was commissioned to manufacture a font cover and church gates for his adopted home church in Oddingley in Worcestershire. His diverse interests included sailing and boating. He regularly organised trips on the family sailing yacht not only for family and friends, but also for friends and colleagues at work to thank them for their hard work.

He had a lifelong interest in classical music, which began with playing the organ at the congregational church in Nuneaton as a boy. He was a member of the University of Birmingham Choral Society, and latterly became Chairman of the Bromsgrove Choral Society. He leaves a wife, Angela, two children and 5 grandchildren.

Andrew Hamer, John Fielding