Anthony (“Tony”) Rickwood, who has died at the age of 75, played a seminal role in establishing Paediatric Urology as a recognised speciality in the United Kingdom and was a founder member of the British Association of Paediatric Urologists in 1990.
At King Edward VII School, Sheffield, Tony was an outstanding pupil and went on to win an Open Scholarship to University College, Oxford, where he qualified in Medicine in 1965. Junior posts at the Radcliffe Infirmary and a Demonstratorship in Human Anatomy were followed by general surgical training at the Royal Hospital, Sheffield. This included urology, renal transplantation and paediatric surgery, and led to specialist training in paediatric surgery at the Sheffield Children’s hospital 1974. In 1979 Tony was appointed Consultant in Spinal Injuries and Spina Bifida at Lodge Moor Hospital and the Children’s Hospital, Sheffield and in 1983 he succeeded J. Herbie Johnston as Consultant Paediatric Urologist at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, where he remained until his retirement in 2001.
Tony taught his trainees, on whom he had a great impact, to question why they were doing something and not to act without good reason. His pre-eminent clinical expertise was in relation to the neuropathic bladder and vesico-ureteric reflux. He challenged the accepted operative approach and, based on logical evaluation of objective evidence, was a proponent of non-operative management for most children with vesico-ureteric reflux and ureterocoele. A strong advocate for the prepuce, Tony provided convincing evidence that circumcision rarely was justified for medical reasons before the age of five years. His influence on paediatric surgical practice across the United Kingdom and beyond saved thousands of children from needless operations.
Tony was a highly intelligent, modest man who did not seek publicity or fame. As a speaker, and indeed generally, he was a man of few words and those he uttered were well chosen and relevant. Despite being in demand as a speaker, he rarely ventured beyond the shores of the United Kingdom because of his aversion to flying. Many of his publications in books and peer-reviewed journals are relevant to present day practice.
A passionate interest of Tony’s was railways, which embraced trains and trams. Combined with the fact that he did not drive a car, this lead to an encyclopaedic knowledge of all forms of public transport and timetables in the United Kingdom mainly, but also in countries around the world, many of which he had not even visited. A prominent member of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Tony knew the history of every mile of the railways of northern Wales and a day spent in his company travelling in these historic trains through the Welsh valleys was a rewarding experience.
Tony the man, his modesty, economy with words and wry sense of humour are beautifully captured in the biography he provided around the time of his retirement:
“BIOGRAPHY – AMK Rickwood: Born in Isleworth, Middlesex, raised in Sheffield, educated, after a fashion, at Oxford, surgically trained in Sheffield, predominantly, and, after sixteen years as Paediatric Urologist in Liverpool, getting on a bit. Any ‘expertise’ possessed represents not a ‘special interest’ but rather an exercise in making a virtue of necessity.”
Tony is survived by Valerie, his wife of 46 years, their children Sarah, Elizabeth, Alice, and Tom and seven grandchildren.