Professor Bill Cumming graduated from Sydney University in 1954 and spent six years at the Royal Newcastle Hospital before returning to Sydney to gain his FRACS in 1959. He was the first entirely Australian-trained orthopaedic surgeon. Bill then joined the orthopaedic staff of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for children at the time of the last polio epidemic in Sydney. His team was involved in polio management and in particular leg lengthening following polio. As a junior on the staff at that time, Bill developed an interest in polio that has continued.

In 1970 Professor Cumming studied in Hong Kong at the Sandy Bay Children’s Hospital and was planning to spend his life doing paediatric spinal surgery but he was invited to care for the St George Rugby league team. He performed this role for 15 years – this included the club’s run of 11 years of premierships and Bill performing the first cruciate ligament surgery in Australia.

Bill built and administered the first extensive psychomotor skills laboratory in the world in Sydney, in the 1970s. In managing this skills laboratory, he played a significant role in the development of hands-on training for orthopaedic surgery techniques in the era when internal fixation in fracture surgery, joint replacement, and arthroscopy commenced.

Professor Cumming’s major life orthopaedic interest has been in training those in the developing world. He founded Orthopaedic Outreach in his office in 1970 when he first visited Indonesia, subsequently initiating training programs in Fiji in 1983, and PNG in 1993. Bill has visited Indonesia more than 100 times and is a Permanent Visiting Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery in the University of Udayana Indonesia, and Chief of the external examining team.

Bill’s academic involvement in the developing world has naturally included poliomyelitis and he has watched with great admiration the Rotarian programme for polio control and eradication. In Indonesia he still sees and treats those with Post-Polio Syndrome.

Professor Cumming’s was president of the Australian Orthopaedic Association in 1993-4, was awarded the AM in the order of Australia in 1998, and has a record of contributions, achievements, memberships, positions held, and awards which is truly remarkable. He treasures them all.