David was born in Hobart, Tasmania, after his mother and sister escaped the 1942 invasion of Singapore and his father was interned. They rejoined in England in 1945 and he grew up in Malaya until they returned to Sussex, England in 1949. Despite the excellent schools, he did not distinguish himself but startled everyone, including himself by securing a place at Liverpool Medical School. In the 1960’s the city was alive with music, friends and fun despite the industrial decline and unrest. He co-hired the then unknown Beatles for three long performances at the University charity balls. This and other activities nearly cost his place at medical school and led to short rations but impressed the need to pass examinations as well as experiences of patients’ symptoms and signs and the arts of treating and caring for them. During internship, the clinical geneticist Professor Sir Cyril Clarke’s enthusiasm for ophthalmology opened his eyes to the great variety within ophthalmology. The “new genetics” had not started then and this was always a gap in David’s armamentarium.
David and Anna, brought up near each other, were married in Sussex in 1969; a long honeymoon was accompanied by May and Worth’s textbook before an intensely practical internship in St Paul’s Eye Hospital, Liverpool. This led to another internship at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, thence to Moorfields Eye Hospital, aided by a sober confidential reference being accidentally substituted for an over-enthusiastic open reference. The rich apprenticeship experience at Moorfields was supplemented by the brilliant teaching of the senior fellows. Then a further time at GOSH and, in early 1976, an observership with Dr Marshall Parks where six weeks were spent in the clinic or operating room, staying at his house under the kindly eye of his wife, Angeline, and some of their children. This was a career-changing insight into an American way of practising ophthalmology- from running an office to the honest, courteous and efficient handling of patients, the passion for the practical and academic aspects of pediatric ophthalmology and the respectful and gentlemanly way that Marshall conducted his life and brought joy to himself and those around him.
In 1976, David was appointed jointly to GOSH and to the National Hospitals for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square (NHQS) and given the chance of a fellowship in neuro-ophthalmology with William F. Hoyt, becoming one of the fortunate recipients of the penetrating mind and choleric tongue of that charismatic neuro-ophthalmologist in his prime. The next thirty years were spent mostly at GOSH, latterly as Professor at University College London, with an academic and clinical pediatric ophthalmology department that worked particularly in the areas of congenital cataract, vision development, neurophysiology, eye movements and in Pediatric Ophthalmic Epidemiology.
Academic collaborations led to over 250 publications, 160 in peer-reviewed journals, 21 named lectureships, 17 medals and 15 visiting professorships. £5.3M in grant and capital funding was raised which lives on as the Ulverscroft Vision Research Group under the leadership of Dr Jugnoo Rahi. David encouraged trainees, fellows and observers from every continent and many remaining in contact career-long. Editorship of the book Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, latterly with Dr Creig Hoyt, and involving over 100 authors, now in 5 editions, was a joy and privilege. Marshall Parks wrote the foreword to the first edition.
Anna and David have sons Matthew and Nicholas and four grandchildren, and interests in forestry, tennis, growing vegetables and sailing. If asked what he had learned from Dr Marshall Parks about necessary characteristics to follow in his footsteps, David would say “honesty, energy, good teaching and a sense of humour”!