Lives of the fellows

Hugh Cameron Burry

b.29 October 1930 d.18 June 2014
MB ChB NZ(1954) MRACP(1966) MRCP(1966) DPhysMed(1967) FRACP(1973) FRCP(1974) FACRM(1983) FAFRM(1992)

Hugh Cameron Burry was born in Christchurch, the son of Howard Burry, company executive and Evelyn Cameron. An older brother, Alastair was an Otago graduate also and became a pathologist. Hugh married Pamela Blackie in 1954 and they had three sons, Mark (Professor of Innovation and Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory, Melbourne), Andrew (Marketing Consultant) and Michael (Computing Services Consultant). The marriage was dissolved in 1982 and Hugh married Barbara Allen (Research Pharmacist) in 1984.

He attended Christ’s College in Christchurch before commencing medical studies at the University of Otago Medical School. During this time he showed exceptional talent as a No 8 rugby forward, representing Canterbury and NZ Universities and he was selected as an All Black in 1960.

After graduating he was a houseman at Christchurch Hospital before going into general practice in New Brighton for eight years. In 1965 he returned to Christchurch Hospital as a medical registrar. With MRACP in hand, he then headed to Guy’s Hospital in London to train as a rheumatologist. He was research registrar there in 1966, and registrar and locum senior registrar 1967-1968. He clearly made an impression as in 1968 he was appointed Director, Department of Rheumatology at Guy’s. In addition he was Director, Hume Kendall Rehabilitation Unit at Guy’s and Director of the Guy’s Hospital School of Physiotherapy. From 1974-1976 he was Consultant Physician to the Sports Council of Great Britain.

He returned to New Zealand in 1976 to take up the appointment of Consultant Rheumatologist, Wellington Hospital Board. Two years later he was made Associate Professor of Rheumatology, Wellington Clinical School of Medicine.

In 1982 Hugh resigned his hospital and university positions to become Chief Health Advisor and Rehabilitation Controller at the Accident Compensation Corporation (NZ). For a number of years he had campaigned for improved safety in sport, especially in relation to rugby scrums. He was Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, NZ Rugby Football Union 1980-1988, a member of the IRB’s medical advisory committee, and oversaw medical services for the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. It was only after he published the paper ‘The need to make rugby safer’ (BMJ 1988, 296:149) that the IRB was persuaded to alter the rules around the scrum.

In 1988 he moved to Australia to be Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, Melbourne University and Director of Rehabilitation Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Hugh returned to NZ in 1991, to Christchurch. He became Clinical Director, Physical Disabilities Unit, Burwood Hospital, and ran a private consulting rheumatology and rehabilitation medicine practice until 2000.

In retirement he became a farmer and ran a perendale sheep stud in Hanmer Springs. His many interests included contract bridge, gardening, fly fishing and tramping. He played the French Horn and loved all classical music and opera. He had a passion for words and in particular English literature. Hugh maintained a keen interest in rugby throughout his life, and was Patron of the New Brighton Rugby Football Club.

Ron Easthope

[Reproduced, with permission, from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ College Roll]

(Volume XII, page web)

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