Formula One safety pioneer;
Born: September 6, 1928; Died: September 12, 2012.
Professor Sid Watkins, who pioneered the life-saving safety standards now taken for granted in Formula One, has died of a heart attack at the age of 84.
But while his public achievements were in motor racing, privately Prof, as he was affectionately known, will be missed as one of the kindest and most caring people anyone could ever hope to meet.
He was also remarkably sharp-witted and had the ability to generate infectious laughter with his apparently never-ending list of wicked one-liners.
In complete contrast, it was the serenity of a day's fishing on his beloved River Tweed, near the family home at Coldstream, which allowed him to reflect on his life.
A world-leading neurosurgeon, he led neurosurgical units in New York and London, pioneering not only brain surgery for Parkinson's disease, but also the first implantable electrodes to relieve crippling disorders of the brain and spine.
Born the son of a Liverpool garage owner, he always had an interest in cars. But he trained as a doctor at Liverpool University Medical School before serving with the British army in Africa.
On his return to the UK he trained as a neurosurgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, a hospital noted for its expertise in head injuries and trauma. It was no surprise that, while working there, he became involved regularly in motor racing at Silverstone.
That interest in motorsport continued when he moved to Syracuse University in New York State in 1962, offering his services at the appropriately named Watkins Glen, which hosted the Formula One US Grand Prix.
Eight years later he returned to England as head of neurosurgery at the London Hospital. Over the next four decades he would remain connected to the institution.
His link with motorsport continued through the RAC medical panel and, in 1978, he was approached by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone to become an on-track surgeon at grands prix. He was also the chief medical officer for the FIA.
The friendship with Mr Ecclestone was lifelong, and between them they set about making Formula One as safe as possible.
In his first four years in office he endured the deaths of Ronnie Peterson, Gilles Villeneuve and Riccardo Paletti.
But it was the tragic 48 hours of the fateful San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994 which devastated Prof Watkins.
Rubens Barrichello narrowly escaped from an horrendous accident, before Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were killed. Through their mutual respect for each other, he was particularly close to Senna.
Prof Watkins was at the side of Senna's car just 26 seconds after the Brazilian's crash at the Tamburello Curve.
"It was clear he had a massive brain injury: we lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground," he remembered.
"As we did, he sighed and, although I am not religious, I felt his spirit depart at that moment."
Prof Watkins's tireless work thereafter was committed to ensuring safety was paramount at every grand prix circuit.
Improvements were made to the evacuation and resuscitation facilities around the track: those to the medical centre were taken to extraordinary levels and resulted in many being better equipped than hospitals. He also was instrumental in the redesign of race cars, raising cockpit sides to protect the drivers, plus developing the HANS head-and-neck support system and making its wearing mandatory.
He drove relentlessly to ensure safety standards were the highest achievable and which, ultimately, established the benchmarks for all sports around the world.
A quiet man, Prof Watkins –who leaves his wife, playwright and historian Susan – admitted relatively recently: "I still think a great deal about Ayrton. It's one of the problems of old age: you dream more.
"There are two or three people in my life who have affected me a lot – my father, the neurosurgeon at Oxford with whom I trained, and Senna – and I dream about them constantly.
"And I hate it, because they're alive and well, and then you wake up, and have to face once more that they're gone."
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