HipSilver's showcase of inspirational people from the silver generation who are living life fully and brightly.

 by Gail Bruce

by Gail Bruce

Robin Tattersall...  doctor, surgeon, sailor, fashion model, adventurer and humanitarian, sailed the Atlantic in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge to celebrate his 75th birthday and to top that Dr. Tattersall ran in the Greek marathon to celebrate his 80th birthday, coming in at the tail end, but the crowds stayed on to cheer him across the finish line.

Robin Tattersall, a plastic surgeon specializing in aesthetic, reconstructive and general surgery lives on Tortola in the British Virgin Island and was awarded, in 2001, the OBE for outstanding public service by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The honor of becoming an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire cited Dr. Tattersall for his remarkable service to the BVI for well over 45 years.  Getting to this honor is quite a story in itself.

Robin was born in England, educated at Manchester Grammar School, and after a two year stint in the army he entered Cambridge University in 1945 where he began studying medicine.  His extra curricula's included playing rugby and sailing, both of which he has done his entire life.  As a child, he began sailing the waters of Northern Wales at the yacht club his grandfather co-founded. He played Rugby for the London Scottish team and after moving to the Caribbean, founded the BVI Rugby/Football Club.

Upon graduation from Cambridge he entered St. George's Hospital Medical School in London. In order to pay his tuition he washed dishes at the Savoy Hotel in London and then took a stab at modeling, which lead to a successful career as a top male model. When he did the 1956 Paris Collections he caught the eye of famed photographer Richard Avedon who paired him with supermodel Suzy Parker. He made the covers of Vogue, Harper's and Queen magazine. Before finishing Surgical Training in General and Plastic Surgery in London, he participated in another Paris collection.

At the suggestion of Avedon, Robin went to New York, signed with Ford Modeling Agency and became New York's highest paid male model, which helped him pay for the rest of his Surgical Education. It was on a photo assignment in Florida, where he sailed from the Bahamas to Jamaica, that he began the most definitive chapter in his life.  

He fell in love with the Islands and found a surgeon's position in the Caribbean, becoming Government Surgeon for the British Virgin Islands. Dr. Tattersall sailed his own boat, going from island to island offering his medical services for lack of clinics. It is rumored that Dr. T, as he is affectionately known, delivered a quarter of the population of the BVI.

Robin decided to stay permanently in the BVI and founded the Bougainvillea Clinic doing plastic surgery. Celebrities came to the Caribbean for a month and returned home looking positively fabulous. The clinic known as the "Purple Palace" by the locals, was one of the only hospitals in the islands. Dr. Tattersall took care of the people in the BVI for over 2 decades, often without charging for his services.  He was often first responder to island disasters in the Caribbean, the first doctor into Dominica after Hurricane David, and he worked in mission hospitals for months at a time in Haiti, donating his operating services.

He has sailed for the BVI in two Olympic Games 1984 and 1992 and sailed in international Caribbean races, and is a member of the New York, the Royal Thames, and the Royal BVI Yacht clubs.

We at HipSilver salute Dr. Robin Tattersall, who at 85 years old is a true Sterling Silver and a shining example that a life lived fully and helping others, prolongs and makes our own life richer and more fulfilling. Well done Dr. Robin Tattersall.


Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946–2004
Louisiana Museum Of Modern Art