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Pioneering female surgeon Averil Mansfield receives Damehood in King’s Birthday Honours

17 Jun 2023

The first female professor of surgery in the United Kingdom, Professor Averil Mansfield, has been made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the first King’s Birthday Honours. Dame Averil receives her honour for services to Surgery and to Equality in Medicine. Professor Mansfield is a past Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 

Photo of smiling Averil Mansfield with a hanging flower basket in background.

Dame Averil qualified as a doctor in 1960. She trained as a vascular surgeon and became a consultant in Liverpool in 1975 when she was just 35. She worked at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London from 1982 to 2002. In 1993, she made history when she was appointed a professor of vascular surgery at St Mary's Hospital, making her the first female professor of surgery in the UK. Dame Averil served on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of England from 1990 to 2000 and was Vice President from 1998 to 2000.

In 1991, Dame Averil was the founding chair of the Royal College of Surgeons of England’s Women in Surgical Training (WIST) committee. In 2007, the Women in Surgery (WinS) Forum was formed to take over from WIST. The Forum meets a number of times a year to work on a wide range of projects, from developing new guidance to planning events, and raising issues relating to women in surgery. Forum members represent WinS on College Council and on other committees. Many Forum members also work with external groups to help widen access to careers in surgery.   

Commenting on news of Dame Averil’s recognition, Tamzin Cuming, the current chair of the Women in Surgery (WinS) Forum, said:

“Dame Averil has been in such an inspiration to so many women making their way in a career in surgery. Though there has been much progress, it is not always easy for women to have a career in surgery, and I can only imagine the challenges she will have faced in her time.

“As a surgeon she was at the forefront of her speciality, vascular surgery, driving improvements and encouraging all around her. She still lights up a room when she joins us for our Women in Surgery events.

“I am absolutely delighted that Averil has been recognised in this way and offer her my warmest congratulations.”

Professor Dame Averil Mansfield DBE ChM FRCS FRCP receives her honour alongside other Royal College of Surgeons of England members and fellows, including Past President, Professor Derek Alderson, who receives a CBE, and Professor Prokar Dasgupta, who receives an OBE. Mrs Vanita Brookes, Fellow of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, receives an MBE and former Faculty of Dental Surgery Dean, Miss Kathy Harley, receives a BEM. 

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