01 Mar 2023

Alan William Frederick Lettin

06th January 1931 – 03rd January 2023

1994 A W F Lettin.jpg


Obituary by Keith Tucker, John Getty and Jonathan Lettin

Alan Lettin Obituary JTO


It is with sadness we report the death of Alan Lettin, BOA President 1994-95.

Alan was born in the East End of London and was proud of his humble heritage. He won a prestigious State Scholarship to UCH where he was awarded a BSc in physiology besides qualifying MB, BS, in 1956.

After National Service he entered orthopaedic training mainly at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) where his ideas as to how orthopaedic surgeons should be trained began to form. He collected his MS (1967) while at RNOH on fracture healing.

In 1967 he was appointed to Bart’s and Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Hackney and in 1969 he was also appointed to the RNOH whilst relinquishing his appointment at Queen’s.

During his long association with the RNOH he was involved with the development of the Stanmore knee, elbow and shoulder replacements and demonstrated them around the world. He was in fact a general orthopaedic surgeon but with a special interest in surgery for rheumatoid arthritis and back pain.

His name was on over 40 peer reviewed publications, 37 chapters in books and several books. He gave over 170 presentations to learned societies and served on over 100 committees, often as Chair. He was an examiner for several universities in the UK.

He was a member of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons before becoming a Vice President.

For many of us, what he will mostly be remembered for was his massive contribution to the formation (1969) of the Bart’s rotation, now known as the Pott rotation which he oversaw until he retired in 1995. The concept of progressive training, which was the hallmark of the Bart’s Rotation, was novel but was rapidly copied by numerous other orthopaedic departments. For Alan, training also involved teaching and he rarely missed his Wednesday teaching session with the Bart’s students.

After retirement, Alan moved to Suffolk where he had a small farm which he worked for a number of years.

Alan married Pat in 1954 and they had four children, three of whom survive him. Tragically they lost their daughter to a spinal tumour shortly after Alan’s appointment to Bart’s. They were an incredibly hospitable and generous couple and many of us remember the dinners at their house in Chigwell with fondness. Alan’s generosity will be forever remembered by the inscriptions in the Great Hall at Bart’s and the Alan Lettin room at the RCS.

Pat predeceased Alan in 2018 and age slowly took its toll before he died peacefully in his sleep three days before his 92nd birthday.