Leslie Clifford Vaughan was born in Swansea in 1927, the son of a craftsman pattern maker in the steel and coal industry in South Wales, from whom perhaps he inherited skills useful to a surgeon. Educated at Swansea Grammar School, he entered the Royal Veterinary College, London in 1944, towards the end of WWII, while the college was evacuated at the University of Reading. He qualified in 1949 and entered the Surgery dept as a Houseman (intern), The clinical departments at that time were in nearby Streatley with very primitive facilities. At that time work involved all surgery in large and small animals and he spent much time travelling with Department Head Professor Clifford Formston, for practical demonstrations of new procedures; including Cesarian section, and rumenotomy - essential for the cattle picking up debris from wartime bombing; to groups of vets.
At war end the College returned to London, but the clinical departments remained at Streatley until moving to Hawkshead House in north London in 1955. Leslie was then senior lecturer and completed his thesis in 1957 on spinal disease in the dog, including myelography using iodised poppy seed oil and developed the procedure for disc fenestration. At Hawkshead, his interests included cattle lameness and Radiology in which he developed techniques and apparatus for safe radiography of large animals used to this day.
He was appointed Diplomat in Veterinary Radiology for his work establishing the first specialist post graduate diplomas awarded by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This expanded into postgraduate qualifications which are now copied world wide. He was an outstanding clinician, teacher and pioneer of clinical research including collaboration with the medical profession on renal transplantation in the 1950s and the prostate gland in the 1960s. He was the surgeon who developed the techniques for production of germ free large animals and was amused that the orthopaedic surgeons should do the work of the reproductive dept.
In 1972 he was awarded the rare honour of a DSc of the University of London for his collected work in small animal surgery. He was a Council member of the RCVS from 1967 to 1991, Treasurer from 1973 to 1976 and President in 1987-88.
Although in later years he moved more into small animal orthopaedics and neurology, he supervised many postgraduates and organised a research programme into Equine Racecourse Injuries, published as a monograph, and which instrumental in changing the design of fences in National Hunt racing, thereby reducing the incidence of serious and fatal injuries for horse and rider. He also published a paper on the repair of long bone fractures in the pig.
In small animals, he investigated together with colleagues and post graduate students, OCD in the shoulder of the dog, growth plate defects and described a number of soft tissue injuries and their treatment as well as becoming a member of the BVA Hip Dysplasia Panel. He was a founder of the BSAVA Orthopaedic Study Group, later to become the BVOA. He endowed a prize now awarded for the best article published during the year by a young vet always attended the annual BVOA Meeting to personally present the prize. He was a reviewer for many Journals including one of the first consultants for VCOT. He was an excellent lecturer, much in demand, and promoted some of the earliest CPD courses ever held in the UK and given by his Department of surgery.
Professor Vaughan was Head of the Dept of Surgery for 15 years from 1974 until he was appointed Vice Principal of the College. His quiet and modest leadership led many staff and students, to term him ‘everybody’s favourite’. He worked a remarkable 58 years at the college – over a quarter of the time since the foundation of the college in 1791, a record unlikely to be exceeded. When he officially retired in 1991 he continued to go in to do what he loved – to teach young people, both undergraduate and post graduate and see cases. Any money earned was returned to support the hospital development.
The story of the period in Streatley and the later years in Hawkhurst were the subjects of two books by Leslie, the proceeds from which he donated to the College.
Early years working under very basic conditions led him to be a prime mover in the creation of the outstanding facility - the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals. The college named part of the operating suite in his honour and his portrait ngs there, following his sad death on 14 November 2008 after surgery.
D G Clayton Jones BVetMed, DVR, DSAO, Hon FRCVS.