In memory of Professor David Baguley

“Nobody has done more to raise the profile of tinnitus” 

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former President and beloved friend, Professor David Baguley last week. Our thoughts go out to everyone who knew and loved him. 

David was a lot more than just a figurehead as our President, he was an inspiration to so many of our staff, our Trustees and our volunteers. He really pushed us to do our very best to help those living with tinnitus every day. When speaking with people who knew him well, everyone uses words like approachable, supportive and compassionate; someone who was always willing to offer advice and guidance wherever possible, to whoever needed it.  

He was a charismatic and brilliant speaker who had the ability to share his work with the tinnitus community with clarity, leadership and compassion. He was often introduced at events with the words, “needs no introduction” as he was known to just about everyone within the tinnitus field, not only in the UK but worldwide. He collaborated with, taught, helped and inspired countless colleagues, students and patients. Not everyone met him personally, but everyone knows of his work and contribution to the world of tinnitus.  

He was a prolific and tireless researcher, publishing some 200 papers in academic journals – including The Lancet – over the course of his career, mostly on the topics of tinnitus, hyperacusis and vestibular schwannoma. He also wrote numerous books and book chapters. One of the books he co-authored (with his friends Laurence McKenna, Don McFerran and Gerard Andersson) – Tinnitus: a multidisciplinary approach – is still much used today. This was one of his defining strengths – he really ‘got’ that a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to tinnitus is needed if we are to make progress towards a cure. He was equally comfortable, and interested, in talking to ENT surgeons as he was talking to psychologists or cell biologists. He understood everyone’s language. This ability to bring together often very different perspectives made him a most fitting PAC Chair and later BTA President.  

We spoke with one of our current Trustees, Dr Lucy Handscomb, who shared some of her memories of him: 

I first got to know Dave in 1998, when I -a beginner hearing therapist – became involved in the European Tinnitus Course, where clinicians went to learn how to help tinnitus patients. Hearing him speak – confident, engaging, clear, funny, passionate – inspired me to focus on tinnitus in my career too. I am sure many others have a similar story to tell. An internationally renowned speaker, he shared his expertise and wisdom with so many in such an engaging way, and he was always willing to stay behind, answer questions and enter into discussions. His passion for his work was always evident, and nobody has done more to raise the profile of tinnitus within the audiology and ENT communities.

Our current President, Don McFerran first met David in 1986 when Don was a newly appointed ENT trainee. They went on to collaborate throughout their careers and as a result became good friends. Reflecting Don said: 

I first met Dave in the summer of 1986: me as a newly appointed ENT trainee in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge; Dave as a recently appointed Audiological Scientist and Head of the Audiology Department. We rapidly established common ground, both with our work interests and in our personal lives: a shared music interest saw us travelling to a Van Morrison concert.

We went on to write many scientific papers together; we sat on advisory committees for bodies like the British Tinnitus Association and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, we co-operated on government projects for tinnitus, we taught together on many tinnitus courses and were co-organisers of the European Tinnitus Course for several years.  

Our book – Tinnitus a Multidisciplinary Approach – that we co-authored with Laurence McKenna and Gerhard Andersson, put into practice something we all fervently believed in – tinnitus can only be satisfactorily managed and researched using experts from a wide range of different specialties. We co-authored another book with Laurence McKenna – Living with Tinnitus and Hyperacusis – and the success of this modest tome remains one of our greatest achievements.  

The friendship continued outside work, and one of my fondest memories of Dave was watching him dressed in white robes being ordained as a priest in the Church of England at Ely Cathedral.  

I spoke with Dave many times during 2022 and he was still chock-full of ideas and enthusiasm. His passing is a huge loss in so many ways and to so many people.

David will be sorely missed by the research, medical and tinnitus communities across the world but his memory and his legacy will be felt for many, many years to come. Thank you, David.

The University of Nottingham has very kindly set up a JustGiving page in David’s memory after his family asked for charitable donations rather than flowers. If you would like to donate in memory of David and the enormous contribution he made to the tinnitus community then please use the button below. 

Donate in memory of David

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