History of The Holdsworth Orthopaedic Club

Frank Wild Holdsworth (1904-1969) was born and brought up in Bradford and medically educated at Cambridge and St. Georges Hospital. He qualified in 1929 LRCP, MRCS and FRCS (Eng) 1930, and then, unusually, proceeded MB,BCh. Cambridge in 1934, presumably to take his MCh in 1935. He held junior appointments at St. Georges and then returned to Yorkshire as RSO at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary. He was helped and encouraged by the then Professor of Surgery Sir Ernest Finch, who not only suggested that Holdsworth should be elevated to the Consultant Staff in 1937 as the first orthopaedic surgeon in Sheffield, but also gave him one of his wards to set up the speciality.

By the time the war started in 1939 Holdsworth had a senior registrar and, soon after, a consultant colleague at the other city hospital in Sheffield, the Royal Hospital. For much of the war years however he was responsible for orthopaedic surgery in most of South Yorkshire. Gradually a few more consultant appointments were made in the periphery.

In later 1942 Frank Holdsworth had been in post as the only orthopaedic surgeon at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary for about five years. Reginald Tatham was a newly appointed consultant at Hull – the only orthopaedic surgeon and with no support. Tatham had contacted Holdsworth to ask his help with a difficulty fracture dislocation of the hip; Holdsworth went to Hull, and they operated on the hip together.

Holdsworth was worried that similar circumstances could recue if newly appointed surgeons found themselves in difficulties, bearing in mind that there were no recognised training paths at that time. He conferred with Sydney Papworth, this his senior registrar, and they agreed to arrange informal gatherings to help these new appointees.

Holdsworth had concerns that such an initiative would upset the BOA (whose President he would become in 1962/63) but, enlisting the advice of Sir Ernest Finch then Professor of Surgery in Sheffield, a dinner was arranged in Sheffield. To the dinner were invited Barry Paine from Leeds, Arthur Naylor from Bradford, Maitland Smith from Doncaster, Geoffrey Hyman from Halifax, and Alford Dornan from the Royal Hospital in Sheffield, as well as Tatham, Pappworth and Finch. The dinner was preceded by a ward round and followed the next morning by the presentation of a few interesting cases for discussion.

Thus, the club was born. Further informal meetings were held at Hull, Leeds, Bradford, and Pinderfields and one or two new members were elected. Rules were paid down. Membership was limited to 15, wives were not allowed to attend, and expulsion was the penalty if a member failed to attend two consecutive meetings without a reasonable excuse. Subsequent tinkering with the rules increased the active membership to 20, and as members reached retiring age, there were allowed ‘inactive’ membership (most continuing to be good attenders!) Holdsworth was elected the first President. Tenure was for two years and devolved by seniority. Pappworth was the first secretary and served for 23 years. The Secretary now changes every 5 years.

Three meetings are held every year. The Spring and the Autumn meetings are held in South Yorkshire and, in rotation, are hosted by a member in his own city hospital.

Away meetings were suggested after a few years. It was considered that these should take place in smaller centres which the BOA was unlikely to visit. The first was in Canterbury in 1948 and was hosted by Derick Strange, who gave a paper on nerve pedicle grafting (which he had just published and was to give again the following year in the USA when one of the first ABC Fellows) In 1950 the first away meeting abroad was held in Paris, hosted by Prof, Merle d’Aubigné. As the travel allowance at that time for travel abroad (outside the Sterling area) was limited to £50, members had to make a special request to the Bank of England for more! They were given a further £25. These away meetings were so successful that they were continued yearly, alternating with meetings in different cities in the UK. Almost every country in Europe has been visited, and meetings have bee held in Los Angeles, Rochester New York, Jamaica, and Eire. Every few years a special meeting is help to which our foreign hosts are invited.

The format of the meetings has hardly altered. There is always a ward round on the Friday afternoon, followed by tea and one or two papers. Then a short business meeting before a cocktail party at the home of our host and then dinner at a hotel at which all stay the night. Saturday morning is given over to short papers and case conferences. It has become the custom that one of the papers is not directly related to orthopaedics but may have a medical interest. Such talks have varied from “The archaeology of disease” to “Army Surgery in the Gulf War”.

Various names for the club have been suggested in the past (including ‘The LBK Club’, after an amusing story of an experience of the founder) but eventually, without formal adoption, it became known as the South Yorkshire Orthopaedic Club, changing to its present title on the death of Sir Frank! The club tie however still bears the LBK logo.

IT is thought that this club is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, of the regional Orthopaedic clubs in Britain and is still flourishing. The last meeting in May 2005 was at the Democritus University of Thrace in northern Greece, with a subsequent few days in Istanbul.


President's Medal (Design)

President's Medal (Design)

Monogram of Holdsworth

President Medal

President Medal


The format of the meetings is slightly changed from the last few years, we meet on Thursday evening on drinks. A scholarly lecture is arranged, we try to make it general surgical/Medical or historical lecture followed by dinner. On next morning Friday the member Hospital Host consultants and Trainees (specialist registrars) present Virtual ward rounds (instead of physical ward rounds). Interesting case presentation and group discussion is a hallmark of this session. A series of lectures are arranged, mostly regional speakers present their high standard of research work and innovative projects. Lunch is provided with a short break. Meeting usually ends with AGM. 

Future meetings and if new members are accepted to join the club are announced. Recent meetings which were arranged in United Kingdom includes, Doncaster Royal infirmary, Portsmouth Hospital, Bradford Royal infirmary, Leeds General infirmary, Princess of Wales Hospital Grimsby, Lincoln County Hospital Lincoln, Scunthorpe general hospital Scunthorpe, Sheffield Children Hospital Sheffield, Chesterfield Royal hospital, Hull Royal infirmary, Northern General Hospital Sheffield and Pordon down Salisbury and OVERSEAS meetings includes CRETE, SYREA, CYPRUS, and MALTA. It is interesting that we had two recent overseas meetings of The Holdsworth Club with Military surgical society.