Thomas Backhouse

Kenilworth Probus No 1

Thomas Wynter Backhouse was born in Lancashire in 1922, the only son of Canon Thomas Backhouse and Mary, nee Wynter.
Along with many sons of the clergy he attended Dean Close School in Cheltenham and was expected to follow his father into the ministry, but he was set on a career in medicine, earning a place to read natural sciences at Queen’s College, Cambridge, in 1940.
At school and university he played hockey and in addition to college colours earned a full blue in 1942.
In due course he moved to the Middlesex Hospital in London to pursue clinical studies.
In the later stages of his training Tom’s senior surgeon suggested he take the theatre sister out for a date. The bonds of a lifetime grew and they married in 1949.
After qualifying as a surgeon Dr Backhouse did his National Service in the RAF, took further exams and eventually chose to specialise in the rapidly developing field of radiotherapy. In 1957 he obtained his first consultant post in the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital and the family moved to Kenilworth.
Mr Backhouse went on to become head of department and oversaw the development of a new cancer treatment facility at the new Walsgrave Hospital in 1970.
He served with the management of the Coventry Hospitals during the 1974 reorganisation of the NHS and at this time of great change his specialism became known as oncology.
In 1973/4 he served as President of the Radiology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and was elected Vice-President (Radiotherapy & Oncology) from 1980 to 1982.
Recognising the need to support patients and their families in the latter stages of cancer, Tom worked with the then Bishop of Coventry and others to fundraise and in 1984 the Myton Hospice opened.
He was also chair of governors at Warwick School in the late 1980s and involved with several other local organisations.
After retiring in 1987 he had more time for travel and relaxation and was for many years a member of Kenilworth Probus No 1.
In 2006 Rotary voted him Kenilworth Citizen Of The Year.
Tom Backhouse died on July 1, 2016 survived by Margaret, his wife of 67 years, four sons, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, an inspirational man who made an incredible difference to countless lives and through the Myton Hospices will continue to do so.

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