College Saddened by the Death of Former Director of Education, Christopher Bulstrode

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22 Dec 2023

The College is saddened to hear about the loss of Christopher Bulstrode. This poignant obituary pays tribute to our former Director of Education for RCSEd. 

Christopher Bulstrode was Director of Education for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh from 2010 - 2012. With his partner then wife, Victoria Hunt, they developed a series of very popular courses for Junior Doctors, Examiners, Dentists and the Intercollegiate Boards of Surgery, which the College then commissioned them to run worldwide. Chris made many trips to Sri Lanka and India, and also Hong Kong, Africa, Australia and Singapore. In all, he trained 26,000 clinicians.

He was just 16 when he was awarded a scholarship to Oxford to read medicine. To fill the year before he was 17 he was offered a junior post at the Max Planck Institute in Bavaria under Konrad Lorenz studying animal behaviour. He was fascinated. When he started in Oxford the following year, he found that the labs and the thinking in Oxford were not to his taste, and within a term, he changed to Zoology specialising in ornithology and marine biology. At a loss of what to do after his degree, a wise tutor advised him never to make a career out of what you love most – keep it as a hobby. So, he decided to drop Zoology and start again in Medicine, this time in Cambridge, After this he returned to Oxford for his clinical studies, where amongst many practical jokes, he organised a change-round of the road signs which were being set by the Council for the new Central Oxford road scheme scheduled to begin on April 1st. The traffic went into a closed loop and the jams were enormous. When the police finally arrived to interview him he was on his way to Scotland for 2 weeks of climbing while the dust settled.

After a spell in Africa, during which he met his first wife, Katherine, he returned to Edinburgh to take his FRCSs and start his training in Trauma and Orthopaedics while completing an MCh thesis on the treatment of Leg Ulcers. He was appointed to Oxford as a Clinical Reader and then a Professor specialising in hip and knee replacements.

After a spell on the General Medical Council, where he found change almost impossible, Chris joined the Territorial Army aged 56 as the oldest recruit ever, went to Sandhurst, and was immediately deployed to Afghanistan where he worked for seven months in the field assessing medical and refugee problems for the local Afghans.

On his return he joined Médecins du Monde (MDM) and was deployed to Gaza to perform reconstructive surgery on the injured Palestinians, later helping in Haiti, Ukraine and setting up and running the UKs Ebola Hospital in Sierra Leone. He received a CBE from his classmate Prince (now King) Charles for his humanitarian work.

Remaining a keen ornithologist throughout his life he took great pleasure in travelling back to Scotland with his children and with his second wife Victoria. Chris died on the 7th of December 2023 from complications associated with a degenerative neurological condition. He leaves two families and a wide circle of friends and colleagues who will miss him greatly.

Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Christopher at this difficult time.

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