John Lionel Stretton, born on 20th September 1860, was the third generation of surgeons in the family. Following his grandfather, William Birch of Barton-under-Needwood, he started his medical career as apprentice to his father, Samuel, in 1877, before becoming a celebrated surgeon in his own right. In his long career at Kidderminster hospital he performed over 40,000 operations and was responsible for many improvements to the hospital and the services that it provided to the community. In addition to his unstinting service to the local population, Lionel left a legacy for which the whole world can be grateful. He was responsible for the introduction of tincture of iodine to sterilise the skin, several surgical inventions and development of a range of aseptic hospital equipment. When he retired in 1938, in response to encouragement from his many friends and colleagues, Lionel put pen to paper, producing a book for the general reader entitled "Fifty-six Years a Surgeon - Recollections and Reflections." Trying to get this published in 1940, he received only rejections and must have been bitterly disappointed that he never saw it on the bookshelves before his death in 1943. Thankfully, a copy of the manuscript survived and, finally, published to recognise and publicise his innovative and pioneering contributions to medicine.