Lives of the fellows

Cecil Charles Worster-Drought

b.2 August 1888 d.28 October 1971
BA Cantab(1909) MRCS LRCP(1911) MA MB BChir(1912) MRCP(1920) MD(1920) FRCP(1933)

Cecil Charles Worster-Drought was the son of Thomas and Louise W. Drought of County Wicklow, Ireland, but was orphaned early in life. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School and was Scholar and Prizeman at Downing College, Cambridge, taking his BA with first class honours in Natural Sciences in 1909. He qualified from Guy’s Hospital in 1911 and was house surgeon to Sir Arbuthnot Lane. He took his Cambridge BChir, then MB by thesis, and his MA in 1912. He did a short period in general practice but was also clinical assistant in the Department of Diseases of the Nervous System at Guy’s from 1911-1914.

During the 1914-19 war he was a Captain in the RAMC, serving first with a stretcher unit until, as he claimed, his ability to do a lumber puncture in the meningococcal epidemic of 1915 made him into a neurologist. He was consulting neurologist to the Woolwich Military District and also Tetanus Officer 1917-1919.

In 1920 he took his MRCP and his Cambridge MD, and in 1921 was Fearnside Scholar for research in organic neurology in the University of Cambridge. After this he was appointed as physician neurologist to the honorary staffs of the Metropolitan Hospital, the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases (later the West End Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery), the Bethlem Royal Hospital, the Royal Cancer Hospital (later the Royal Marsden Hospital), the Northern Hospital (Post- Encephalitic Section after the 1918 epidemic), the Mildmay Memorial Hospital, St Andew’s Hospital and Leatherhead Hospital. He was also adviser to the National Institute for the Blind and medical director of the Moor House School of Speech Disorders, which was his own idea and which was opened in 1947.

He was President of the Neurological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1947-49 and served on the Council of the Sections of Neurology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics and Psychiatry. He was a member of the Association of British Neurologists from 1933 and on the Council 1949-52, being elected an Honorary member in 1964. He wrote extensively on neurological subjects, including monographs on Cerebrospinal Fever 1919, Neurosyphilis 1941, and Residential Speech Therapy in 1952. He also contributed to modem trends in neurology, and chapters in the Oxford loose-leaf medicine, and to British Encyclopaedia of Medical Practice.

In 1952 he published the 10th edition of Sir James Purves-Stewart’s text book The Diagnosis of Nervous Diseases. In 1971, only a few weeks before his death, he published an article on ‘An unusual form of acquired aphasia in children’ [Develop. Med. Child. Neurol. 13].

He was a first class clinician and had an enormous private practice. He would see endless private patients all morning and then a vast hospital clinic in the afternoon, when he could listen to four people at once and forget nothing, with only the aid of a hieroglyph written on a cigarette carton. A full social evening would follow and he would then return home to work on an original article till 3 am. His clear mind and astonishing memory made him much sought after as a medicolegal expert witness.

From 1939-44 he was consultant neurologist in the Emergency Medical Service and his quality as a leader became evident in the way he maintained uninterrupted the work of the West End Hospital, despite three major bombings and consequent loss of life.

Once, during this war, he rendered first aid to a National Fire Service unit which had received a direct hit by a bomb near his front door and, another time, quietly stopped his car, opening the door to reduce the blast, while a flying bomb exploded nearby, before driving on to the hospital.

In his youth he was something of an athlete and footballer, and he gained a bronze medal for skating in his fifties. His wide interests included antique furniture, church brasses, and architecture, particularly of the Georgian period. Retaining his amazing memory and clear mind to the end, he never retired, and within a few hours of his death he was still dictating letters to make arrangements for his many patients. He was justifiably proud of his professional career of 60 years, of which over 50 were in active consulting practice in Cavendish Square and Harley Street. One of his favourite phrases was ‘I must press on’.

He married firstly Lillian, daughter of William T. Revnell, who died in 1953, and secondly Majorie, daughter of the Rev. A.J. Revnell, who survived him. He had no children.

NG Hulbert

[, 1971, 4, 368; Lancet, 1971, 2, 1101; Times, 2 Nov 1971]

(Volume VI, page 476)

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