University of Otago Otago Medical School Alumni Association

Obituary - Sir Randal Elliott

Sir Randal Elliott (MB ChB) was a prominent eye surgeon, campaigner for safety glass, and prime mover in the reorganisation of the Order of St John.

Randal Elliott

Sir Randal Elliott

Sir Randal (87) was educated in Wellington, Havelock North, Wanganui and the University of Otago, where he was at Knox College for four years. He graduated with his medical degree in 1947.

He worked at Wellington Hospital before heading to London, where he worked as an ophthalmic surgeon before returning to New Zealand.

He rejoined Wellington Hospital and stayed there for more than 30 years.

Sir Randal was also chancellor of St John and in 1987 was made Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order, the highest honour within St John.

It was the same honour awarded to his father, Sir James Elliott in 1955. The honour of Bailiff Grand Cross was limited to 21 people in the world at anyone time.

St John said the death of Sir Randal would leave a great void and his legacy was a unified national organisation running the best ambulance service in the world with the highest standards of first aid, patient care, training and event management.

During World War 2 Sir Randal served with the 1st Battalion, Wellington Regiment, and then the Otago University Medical Corps.

He was later a medical officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, where he became a group captain and served in the Pacific hot spots of Sarawak, Sabah, Malaya and Vietnam.

He was also chairman and president of the New Zealand Medical Association and president of the Ophthalmological Society and the Medico-Legal Society.

He was president of the Wellington Club and the Road Safety Trust and played a park in making laminated windscreens compulsory in cars and banning plate-glass or mesh-glass in public areas because of the danger to people walking into them.

Sir Randal was keen on outdoor and adventurous pursuits including mountaineering and kayaking. He was involved with the National Mountain Safety Council and Forest and Bird.

His interest in the environment extended to being a member the of the national executive of the Save Manapouri Campaign and he had strong interests in sailing and skiing.

A engineering bent led to an interest in tinkering with cars, especially Volkswagens.

In 1949 he married Pauline Young, who died last year.

He was knighted in 1977.

Sir Randal is survived by seven children and 14 grandchildren.

NZPA and Philip Somerville
(Otago Daily Times, 24 July 2010)