< Tony Rickwood, KES 1951-58

Tony Rickwood, KES 1951-58

ANTHONY MICHAEL KENT RICKWOOD (King Edward VII School, Sheffield) died on 17 December 2015 aged 75. The following obituary is a shortened version of a eulogy given at his funeral by his daughter Sarah, who came up to Univ in 1987:

Although my father was born in Middlesex, he grew up in the village of Dore, outside Sheffield. War meant that he spent some of his early childhood as an evacuee, but the remainder of his childhood he recalled as a series of “Just William” episodes. There were, too, model aeroplanes, trains and trams, and Meccano – something my father described as being like a hook that came out of the set he was given for his eighth birthday, a hook which never let him go his entire life. My father said to me on my eighth birthday that that was the best age to be.

On life went after that apogee of eight, and my Dad went to King Edward’s Grammar School in Sheffield, from where he won a Scholarship to University College Oxford, to study medicine. The photograph of the 1958 University College Freshmen shows line after line of serious young men, all in suits and ties, all with alarmingly bulging crania. The dress sense of his contemporaries may have moved on with the times, but my father’s remained preserved in aspic at that very point, especially the Univ tie. He’s in one now.

Oxford was more than a relentless academic rise for my father; it was the genesis of lifelong friendships. These were most frequently forged from a mutual interest in drinking and spotting trains and/or trams. He was a demon fast bowler on the Osler House cricket team. On qualifying, he started his medical career in Oxford, where he experienced the next great good fortune of his life, to meet and marry my mother.

The next group photo including my father shows the 1965 graduates of the clinical medicine course of Oxford. He was too ill to attend a recent reunion of the class of 1965, but he left a summary of his medical career for his contemporaries, his style characteristically sparse, his focus on his success in reducing the number of unnecessary circumcisions performed on male children in the United Kingdom. In fact my father’s career in medicine was most distinguished, and many people today have good reason to be grateful for him. He was, literally, a life saver for the very sick children in “The Kids” in Sheffield. He built a rapport with many of those children, which helped them and their parents through dark periods.

He was a ferocious worker, but he had a vast hinterland. The childhood seeds of Meccano, stamps, railways and model aeroplanes grew and flourished. I remember him taking a special journey by train down to Henley for the sole purpose of purchasing his very first number 10 Meccano set.

My father needed to move to Liverpool in 1983 to realise his career goal of a Consultancy in Paediatric Urology, at Alder Hey Hospital. Liverpool was at that time at the nadir of its fortunes, just out of the riots and in the hands of Militant Tendency, but once again my mother proved how lucky my father was as she created a new life for him and us.

Over the years Liverpool climbed out of its slump and has becoming an exciting place to be. It also became truly home to my parents. In his retirement he picked up on the long standing friendships of Oxford days, and travelled the tramways of Europe with my mother.

In recent years, the inevitable consequences of his twin enthusiasms for drinking and smoking caught up with him, and his health failed. He never complained; sentiment, for himself, or others, was not his style. Nevertheless he had the gift of long friendship, of a marriage of forty-six years, four children, seven grandchildren, grandchildren, and the appreciation of countless patients and colleagues. It was a life well lived.

[Taken from a termly newsletter of University College, Oxford, via Roger Morton (KES 1945-55), also of University College]