Robert Roaf


Oil on canvas

Robert Roaf was born in London in 1913. He won scholarships to Winchester (aged 13) and Balliol College, Oxford where he gained first class honours in physiology and biochemistry before turning to medicine. He qualified MB, BCh in 1938, LRCP London 1937 and gained FRCS Ed. in 1939. He was awarded FRCS Eng. in 1942 and MChOrth. Liverpool in 1946. Roaf served in the Merchant Navy in WW2. As a Quaker he would not undertake military service and experienced three years of convoy duty in the Battle of the Atlantic before being invalided out. For the remainder of the war he undertook research work on nerve injuries on military personnel. After working at the Royal Southern Hospital and Women's Hospital, Liverpool, Roaf was awarded the Robert Jones Gold Medal and appointed consultant in orthopaedics at the Royal Infirmary and at Alder Hey. He became Professor of Orthopaedics in 1963 with a special interest in spinal surgery. He wrote books on orthopaedic nursing, orthopaedic mechanics and spinal deformity. Roaf was very widely travelled. His expertise was recognised in India, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia and he was made Honorary Member or Fellow of the Orthopaedic Associations of India, Malaysia and East Africa. He spoke fluent Russian and being a trained high Alpine skier was invited to join an expedition to climb in Sikkim and Tibet in 1936, leading to a lifelong interest in Tibet. He spoke Tibetan and made professional visits to Tibetan refugee camps after the Chinese invasion. He died in 2007.

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