Lives of the fellows

Brian Ernest Kendall

b.27 January 1929 d.3 May 2015
BA Dubl(1951) MB BCh BAO(1953) MRCP(1957) DMRD(1959) FFR(1961) FRCP(1974) Hon FFR RCSI(1990) FRCS(1991)

Brian Kendall was director of the Lysholm department of radiology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire, the son of Gilbert Kendall, a tanner, and Elsie Kendall née Holt. Aged seven, following the death of his mother, his family moved to Limerick in Ireland. He went to boarding school at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where he earned himself a scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin. There he excelled both academically and on the playing fields, as a middle distance runner, rugby player and competitive swimmer.

After he qualified, he moved to London in early 1954 to continue his training. He had originally intended to pursue a career in paediatrics, but unfortunately he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. He was advised that he would not be allowed have direct patient contact for two years. So, with a young family to support and not wishing to put his career on hold, he transferred his training to radiology.

In 1962 he obtained his first consultant radiologist post at the London Chest Hospital (a post he held until 1968). In 1964, he was appointed to the Middlesex Hospital staff, where he started to specialise in neuroradiology. Soon after this appointment, he went to Oslo in Norway for three months to get further training in this area. In 1967 he was appointed as a consultant at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Maida Vale. He continued there until, in 1974, he obtained a place in the Lysholm department of radiology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square. In 1975 he obtained a further post at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.

He continued these posts until his ‘retirement’ in 1994, aged 65. Post-retirement he not only returned to the Middlesex Hospital, but also took a post at the Royal Free Hospital, where he continued training radiologists and doing interventional neuroradiology until 2009, when, at the age of 79, he finally stopped clinical work.

Brian Kendall was fortunate to enter the field of radiology at a time when technological advances were set to transform the specialty. These opportunities he exploited to the best of his ability. He was dedicated to all areas of his work, both clinical and academic. He researched extensively in the fields of angiography, CT scanning and MRI, and was a pioneer in interventional neuroradiology. He was recognised as a world-leading diagnostic, paediatric, neonatal and interventional neuroradiologist.

In 1977 he was awarded the Barclay prize by the British Institute of Radiology. In 1979 and 1981, he was a visiting professor at the University of California, San Francisco. In 1988, he received the Barclay medal for original contributions in neuroradiology, also from the British Institute of Radiology.

In 1984 he became director of the Lysholm department of radiology and, in conjunction with two other colleagues, helped make the department one of the most well-known throughout Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

He had a passion and enthusiasm for his work that he never lost up to the day he died. He loved teaching and trained a considerable number of neuroradiologists, many of whom attained leading positions in the field later on. Those he worked with have variously described him as a wonderful colleague with a quiet but commanding presence, a man of incredible intellect, a brilliant medical expert, a kind and courteous man with a very British sense of humour, an excellent teacher and a great inspiration.

After retirement at age 65, in addition to his honorary appointments, he also started to develop his medico-legal practice. Here he continued to use his expertise and energy as an expert witness in medico-legal cases. His views were completely respected by medical and legal practitioners on both sides; he was described as fair, thoughtful, kind and, above all else, seemingly always right. He continued his medico-legal work until his death.

Brian Kendall was a loving husband and father. In 1954 he married Sylvia Leslie Eugenie née Tyler, a fellow doctor, whom he had met whilst at Trinity College, Dublin. Sadly, his wife unexpectedly and prematurely passed away in 1996, age 67. He was survived by his son and three daughters, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Garry Kendall

[Neuroradiology (2015) 57:871-2]

(Volume XII, page web)

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