Sculptor to create memorial for pioneering Plastic Surgeon who treated his father
Renowned sculptor, Martin Jennings, was approached by The Blond McIndoe Research Foundation to create a statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe, a pioneering plastic surgeon who operated on WWII burn victims.
McIndoe worked from what was originally a small cottage hospital on the outskirts of East Grinstead, West Sussex. At the outbreak of war however the site, Queen Victoria Hospital, was increased in size and became a dedicated burns unit.
Servicemen, particularly from the airforce, were treated here and became known locally as The Guinea Pig Club, because of McIndoe’s pioneering efforts. East Grinstead became known as the town that did not stare because this group, McIndoe’s patients, would go out and socialise, despite their bandages and disfigurements.
The surgeon’s work included plastic surgery that he had to make up as he went along, and much of the techniques he created have become part of the reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries today.
As part of this important role McIndoe would go up and down the country visiting hospitals, looking for patients that might have needed his help. Jennings’ father Michael was wounded as a soldier and found by McIndoe in a Birmingham hospital, bandaged head to toe with burns save for his eyes and his mouth.
The original hospital site still exists where the research foundation works on burn and tissue treatments. McIndoe is a known name to the town but before now there has been no physical memorial in his honour.
For sculptor Jennings it’s a great privilege to be able to honour the man who gave his father back his life. McIndoe died in 1960, at the age of 59.