We are saddened to announce the death of BSG member and surgeon Dr Chris Venables. He was a leading figure in UK pancreatology and gastroenterology and will be remembered, in particular, for making a significant contribution towards developing Endoscopic Services in Newcastle upon Tyne.

It was an honour for me to succeed Chris Venables as Consultant Surgeon at the Freeman Hospital. Chris was a giant of surgical gastroenterology and was instrumental in establishing the first endoscopy unit in the North East at the RVI in Newcastle. He moved to the Freeman Hospital in the early 1980s. Chris persuaded the hospital management that endoscopy was important and financially viable and so two operating theatres in the main theatre complex were given over to endoscopy and became the “endoscopy theatres”. Chris developed ERCP with Ian Lavelle, a radiologist and Richard Lendrum, a gastroenterologist and medical pancreatologist. Early on Chris earned a reputation for being bold and innovative in the management of pancreatic patients which many colleagues around the region were only too happy to pass onto him. His unique clinical skill was combining his endoscopic and surgical expertise. Chris very much provided consultant-care and his patients benefited from this in terms of his personal attention. For instance it was not unusual to find Chris walking up the ward early in the morning with a surgical drain in his hand having just removed it himself and, of course, not knowing precisely where to put it! He was left handed and did quite a lot of dissection in theatre with a knife. If you were a trainee unused to working with a left-handed surgeon the knife appeared to come from no-where and could easily cut the wrong person! However, the results of Chris’s operations were excellent. He never shied away from a difficult case and having followed up many of his patients for 20+ years I can testify that there are numerous patients walking down the streets of the North of England who are forever grateful for his intervention. His name is still frequently mentioned. 

Richard Charnley

A service of thanksgiving will be held at Hexham Abbey on Tuesday 2nd April, from 2:30pm.

The Society would like to take this opportunity to send our condolences to Mrs Venables and the rest of the family.


Funeral Notice (published with permission from the family)
More information will be provided shortly.