Mary-Elizabeth Raw MBE BVSc MSc DVR FRCVS

Mary-Elizabeth Raw passed away peacefully following a short spell in hospital on May 7, 2017. She was born on 24th November, 1946 and was educated at the girls’ grammar school in Kidderminster. She qualified from Liverpool University in 1972 and started her career in mixed practice in Worcestershire, later working in small animal practices in Australia and Canada.

She developed an interest in diagnostic imaging as a veterinary student and was able to broaden her experience and expertise while working in Canada. Returning to the UK in 1977, she studied at the University of Bristol and obtained the RCVS Diploma of Veterinary Radiology in 1981. During this time, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and became increasingly disabled. This did not deter her from participating actively in clinical investigations. Professor Verschooten of the University of Ghent, where she spent time gaining large animal experience, remembers her examining, without fear, horses and farm animals from her wheelchair. Although she was unable to practice actively, she retained her interest in Diagnostic Imaging by undertaking abstracting and editing work and always received a warm welcome at meetings of the European Association of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging and International Veterinary Radiological Association, where her contribution was acknowledged by the award of Honorary Membership. In 1984, she widened her clinical interest by obtaining, by examination, a Fellowship of the RCVS in canine neurology.

For many years she edited the Veterinary Annual; a publication which contained articles covering a wide range of veterinary clinical topics.

She was an Honorary Member of the British Veterinary Association, winner of the Woodrow Award of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and recipient of the RCVS John Henry Steele Memorial Medal. In addition, she was an honorary graduate of the University of Bristol.

She constantly embraced other intellectual challenges and won the BBC’s Mastermind competition in 1989. As a consequence of this achievement, she was invited to join the user panels of the BBC and MS society. She was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours of 1991 for her contribution to legislation on disability.

Despite increasing debility as a result of her illness, Mary-Elizabeth remained independent until the end, and as a measure of her continuing need to achieve, she gained an Honours degree in Fine Art from the Open University in 2016 and at her death she was trying to finish her Master’s degree before applying to do a PhD.

In the moving foreword to the book she wrote after her Mastermind success, Magnus Magnusson wrote “.... Above all it is the story of a brave woman who set her formidable mind and indomitable will to winning a title she feared she might be too handicapped to win. By doing so she bestowed on it a significance that transcends its own very modest claims. Mastermind seeks to celebrate the human mind and its astonishing capacity; with her poignant victory Mary-Elizabeth Raw celebrated humanity itself.”

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