University of Otago Otago Medical School Alumnus Association

Obituary - Professor Alan Alldred

Professor Alan Joseph Alldred, the former foundation professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Otago Medical School, died at his home in Nelson last month. He was 80.

Professor Alan Alldred

Professor Alan Alldred
(1921-2001)

Professor Alldred played a major role in the development of modem orthopaedic services in Otago-Southland and throughout New Zealand. He was also committed to providing high-quality services in rural areas.

After retiring from his University of Otago professorial post in 1982, Professor Alldred served for four years as medical superintendent at Kew Hospital, Invercargill. He was a gifted and witty university medical teacher. He also enjoyed a high international reputation, having been awarded a rare honorary fellowship by the British Orthopaedic Association in 1970.

Professor Alldred received a CBE in 1982 for services to orthopaedic surgery. After retiring to Nelson in 1987, he remained busy, assessing accident victims for the ACC, which involved clinic duties in Nelson, Christchurch, Greymouth and Blenheim. He retired from his work in 1994 but maintained a close and supportive interest in orthopaedic surgery, regularly attending Friday orthopaedic sessions at Nelson Hospital until his death.

He was born in Dunedin, attending Dunedin Normal School, where he was dux, and Otago Boys High School, where he was also a good athlete, playing hockey for the school First XI and, subsequently, for New Zealand Universities.

He graduated MBChB from the University of Otago in 1942, became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (England) in 1949, and a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1956. In 1972 he was appointed to the foundation chair of orthopaedic surgery at the Otago School, only the second such chair established in Australia and New Zealand.

His professorial successor, Professor Keith Jeffery, has paid tribute to Professor Alldred's crucial role in the transition to modem orthopaedic services in New Zealand. His vision and foresight proved invaluable, not least when he helped establish a new and comprehensive national training system for orthopaedic surgeons. He was also an early advocate for computer use in medical administration and the swift recovery of injured patients by air, Professor Jeffery said. Professor Alfred's original work and publications covered many topics, including fat embolism syndrome, hand injuries and hydatid disease in bones.

He was twice awarded the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association's Gillies Medal for original scientific contributions in the field of crippling disorders in children. The national Alan Alldred Traveling Fellowship in orthopaedics has been recently established, with the first annual fellowship being conferred this year. Professor Alldred began his orthopaedic career in 1946 when he was appointed to the first orthopaedic registrar post in Dunedin. In 1948 he left for England, where he was on the staff of the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London, and was registrar at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, a world renowned orthopaedic teaching hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire.

He later became director of orthopaedic services at Dunedin Hospital and a senior lecturer in orthopaedic surgery at Otago University. In 1969, he was awarded a Wolfson traveling fellowship, which enabled him to study surgery for rheumatoid arthritis and allied disorders in many overseas clinics. Professor Alldred served as president of the Orthopaedic Association, and was instrumental in founding the Otago Medical-Legal Society, becoming its first president. He held many other organizational posts, and was honorary surgeon of the Forbury Park Trotting Club for 25 years. He always enjoyed sport, was a keen golfer, and had a great love of the outdoors, particularly in Central Otago. He regularly went on hunting and fishing trips to Lake Manapouri with friends and was officially designated cook.

His mother, Kate Alldred, was born and raised in Naseby and Professor Alldred had a special affinity for the area and people associated with it.

While medical superintendent in Invercargill, his weekends were invariably spent at Wanaka, where he owned a house. He had a particular passion for building schist walls, rockeries and fences. His barbecue area was unique, disused hip prostheses serving as utensil holders.

He worked in the Cook Islands in 1986-87, attempting to reorganize their health service, before moving to Nelson, where his son, Chris, is a general practitioner.

Professor Alldred lived in central Nelson with his wife, Pat, where they built a house and enjoyed working in their garden. He died suddenly on the afternoon of 13 December after working for several hours tending his beloved plants. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Otago Daily Times
6 January 2001