Life in Her Hands

Averil O. Mansfield


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Ebury Publishing
23 February 2023
ISBN: 9781529149968
272 pages

From the publisher

'A great read. I am honoured to have worked with such a legend' David Nott
'A role model for women' Independent
'A wonderful read' Julian Fellowes
'Remarkable' Lauren Laverne

'Charming' Guardian

We were occasionally expected to travel by ambulance to a serious case and would always have a kit of tools and drugs ready for emergency calls. On one occasion, we were responding to a man who had fallen into the hold of a grain ship and broken his leg. I was expected to go down a pole into the ship to administer analgaesia before he could be rescued. The 'audience' of shipworkers delighted in telling me that there were rats the size of dogs down in the grain. The other problem was that this was the era of the mini skirt, and you can imagine what that meant. Following the incident, I instituted the purchase of some 'Casualty Officers Emergency Dungarees' as an addition to the kit.

Averil Mansfield established herself as a pioneer in every sense of the word when she qualified as a surgeon in the early 1970s. At the time just two per cent of her colleagues were female, and she was often met with surprise, bordering on disbelief and amusement, when telling people what she did. But time and again, Averil proved herself more than capable of the role which had been her greatest dream since the age of eight. After a formidable operating career in Liverpool and London, during which she made many enduring friendships, she went on to became the UK's first ever female professor of surgery.

Life in Her Hands is the remarkable story of a truly trailblazing woman. Averil's account shines light on a medical and societal world that has changed beyond measure, but which - as she shows through her experiences - still has a long way to go for the women finding their place within it.