Tributes paid to pioneer of IVF Sir Robert Edwards

NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: Robert Edwards, the pioneer of IVF.
NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: Robert Edwards, the pioneer of IVF.

He was one of the world’s most accomplished scientists.

Sir Robert Edwards, the pioneer behind vitro fertilisation (IVF), gave millions of couples the hope of having their own child.

The Batley-born professor and colleague Patrick Steptoe together developed the treatment, which led to the birth of the world’s first ‘test tube baby’, Louise Brown, in 1978.

Their work has since enabled five million children to be born to otherwise childless couples across the globe.

Professor Edwards won the Nobel prize for physiology/medicine in 2010 and a year later he was knighted for services to human reproductive biology.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Edwards after he passed away aged 87 on Wednesday April 10.

Batley West councillor Peter O’Neill’s family enjoyed a personal triumph through IVF after his son and partner turned to the treatment as a last resort.

He said: “Sir Robert Edwards has to be considered one of Batley’s most exceptional sons and we should be very proud of him.

“His accomplishment has brought untold joy to millions of people, who otherwise would have remained childless.

“This includes my own family, as I am the grandfather of a “test tube baby” and realise there is no gift more precious than the gift of procreation. We are indebted to Sir Robert Edwards and his colleagues.”

Professor Edwards was born at Batley Maternity home in September 1925.

He lived as a youngster on the Wilton Estate opposite the park before moving to Manchester.

Last year the Batley History Group planted a copper beech tree in Wilton Park in his honour.

On behalf of the Batley History Group, Malcolm Haigh said: “We are very sad to hear of the death of Sir Robert Edwards. We are very proud of the fact that Sir Robert was born in Batley.

“We have learned – personally in some cases – of the delight of many couples whose lives have been transformed 
by the amazing procedure which Sir Robert was able to develop.

“We can also say that we were also pleased to learn through Sir Robert’s daughter, Jenny, who came to the unveiling ceremony, that her father was equally proud of his birthplace.”

Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood said: “I very much regret the passing of one of Batley’s most esteemed sons. From humble origins in our town Robert Edwards flowered into one of the world’s most significant scientists.

“Throughout this incredible journey he remained concerned primarily for the good of his fellow man and with the responsibility we all have to support and help one another.

“This is a phenomenal legacy and one of which all of us and especially those of us 
associated with Batley should be rightly impressed and proud.”

The University of Cambridge, where Mr Edwards was a professor, said he passed away peacefully at his home after a long illness.