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Centenary Souvenir

Professor Averil Mansfield Emeritus Professor of Vascular Surgery, London

Professor Averil Mansfield, now retired, will be remembered as the UK’s first female Professor of Surgery, for her pioneering stroke-preventing arterial surgery, and as the former President of the British Medical Association (BMA) from 2009-2010. Born in Blackpool into a non-medical family, Averil knew from a very early age that she wanted to be a surgeon. Averil went to Blackpool Collegiate School and then to the University of Liverpool to study medicine. She qualified in 1960 and soon after undertook a period of research resulting in an MD. It was her first boss, a Welsh surgeon called Edgar Parry, who was a true inspiration and role model for Averil for being ‘excellent in every way’. After completing her surgical training, she spent some time doing a fellowship in San Francisco and Philadelphia, before taking up her appointment as Consultant Surgeon in 1972. She later moved to Hillingdon Hospital for two years before her final career move to St. Mary’s Hospital in London, in 1982 as Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer, where she enjoyed a highly successful career until she retired. Following her heart and making a move to London was her best career decision. In 1993, Averil was appointed Professor of Vascular Surgery at Imperial College and was the first female Professor of Surgery in this country to become Chairman of a Department of Surgery, a role she continued until 1999. She has been President of numerous organisations, including the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the BMA, the Vascular Surgical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Section of Surgery of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM). Her other roles include Chairman of the Board of Science of the BMA from 2010-2014, Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of England from 1998-2000, and she was also appointed a Member of Council at the College. Averil was appointed a Member of the General Medical Council until 2002 when she became Associate Medical Director at St. Mary’s NHS Trust. With an avid interest in medical education, she was Postgraduate Sub-Dean at St. Mary’s Medical School and Chairman of the Intercollegiate Board in General Surgery. She was the first elected Chairman of the Court of Examiners of the RCS England and also spent six years working with the American College of Surgeons. Averil’s succession of prizes, academic distinctions and eminent appointments include a prestigious CBE for services to surgery and women in medicine, a Hunterian Professorship, a Moynihan Fellowship, the Order of Physicians of Lebanon, and an Honorary

Membership and an award from the Association of Women Surgeons in the USA. She has many other Fellowships in the UK, Australia and USA, and countless honorary degrees. She has delivered many invited eponymous lectures and orations worldwide, including the Syme Oration. There is an annual eponymous lecture at Imperial College in her name. Having established herself at a senior level in a profession that was heavily male dominated at the time, Averil has led on several projects aimed at encouraging women to join the profession and address the gender imbalance, especially in surgery. In 1991, she established Women in Surgical Training (WIST) at the RCS, to encourage more women to enter surgery. She also regularly visits schools to make sure that children realise at an early age that women can be surgeons. As one who firmly believes in a culture of openness, Averil initiated and chaired the Professional Standards Board at the RCS, which she set up around the time of the Bristol babies inquiry. Her aim was to ensure high standards of surgical care in the country. Over the years, Averil has raised funds for various charities that she supported. She was Chairman of the Stroke Association and is Vice-President and former Council Member of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. She walked 200 miles coast to coast to raise £28,000 for a research fellowship and raised £250,000 for a lecture theatre in the RCS dedicated to the first female FRCS. In 2007 she walked Hadrian’s Wall for the Stroke Association. Averil’s late husband, John (Jack) Bradley, was also a surgeon and she raised three stepchildren. She lives in London and enjoys music, walking and her grandchildren. * Favourite Music: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice “Che Faro Senza Euridice” * Three objects Averil cannot live without: My initials pendant given by my (late) husband Jack, Piano, Cello

Averil’s advice to junior doctors is “Keep your sense of humour and always remember why you entered the profession in the first place.”


Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...

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