The Latymer School History Magazine - page 38

Willie Vicarage, who was
suffering from facial wounds ,
was one of the first men to
receive facial reconstruction
using plastic surgery.
realised that he should not
have attempted such a large
operation in one surgery,
deducing that similar cases
in the future ought to be
carried out in several smaller
steps. This philosophy of
“never do today what can
honourably be put off till
tomorrow” is an important
one in plastic surgery, as in
all medical fields.
Despite the seriousness of
the work that Gillies carried
out, he was not seen by his
patients as a particularly
strict or authoritarian figure.
In fact, he managed to
maintain a persistently
positive and cheerful
outlook, always
joking with his
patients and
often sketching
exaggerated
caricatures of
himself to give
to them. This
attitude was
present
throughout his
medical career;
he established
a Queen’s
Hospital
Challenge Cup,
which is still
played for
today, and
encouraged
performances
and comedic
plays that often
included cross-
dressing. He
was well aware
of the trauma
he and his
patients were
dealing with,
and saw the
solution to be
light-hearted
entertainment.
Gillies
passionately
believed that
the patient
should be at
the centre of
the care, an
idea which is
incredibly
important
today.
Gillies had a
penchant for
disguising
himself to
deceive friends,
colleagues and
patients. In
1929 he dressed
up in a wig, beard and
moustache and successfully
tricked his friends into
believing that he was ‘Doctor
Scroggy’ from South Africa
for a whole evening. There
are even stories of him
sneaking into wards of Sir
John Ellerman Hospital in the
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