Eric Strach obituary

My father, Eric Strach, who has died aged 96, was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at St Helens and Whiston hospitals, Merseyside. He specialised in the treatment of children with spina bifida, and designed appliances which improved their quality of life, including the Strach-Edney calliper and a shunt to drain fluid from the head, for those affected by hydrocephalus.

Eric was a keen amateur astronomer and built a solar observatory in his garden. His observations and drawings of solar flares and prominences were meticulously executed and published in the journal of the British Astronomical Association.

Eric was born into a close-knit Jewish family in Brno, Czechoslovakia, where his father owned an umbrella shop. After graduating in medicine from Prague University in 1938, Eric went on holiday to France. As the situation in Europe deteriorated, his parents dissuaded him from returning. Eric tried desperately to arrange a visa for his older sister, Ilse, and her children. He always thought he could have done more to save them.

He arrived in the UK in 1940 with the Czech army and resumed his medical career, becoming the senior house surgeon at Wigan Infirmary. He married Margaret Forshaw in 1945. After the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia to help with the typhus epidemic in the Terezin concentration camp. He and Margaret intended to live in Czechoslovakia but, when Eric discovered that his family had perished in concentration camps, decided to settle in the UK.

Until the fall of the iron curtain, Eric did not return. After the establishment of the Czech Republic in 1990, Eric set about having a memorial stone erected in the Jewish cemetery in Slavkov, near Brno, where his grandparents had lived, and renovating the synagogue there. An inaugural ceremony was held on 24 May 1998. At last, Eric was able to pay homage to his lost family. He believed that Holocaust education was a necessity and was a frequent visitor to, and supporter of, the Beth Shalom Holocaust centre in Nottinghamshire.

Eric is survived by Margaret, their children, Helen, Steven and me, and six grandchildren.

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