Message from Philippa, Louis’s wife and partner

picture of LouisPhilippa here – the other half of the team.

Many of you may have already heard that Louis died on Sunday 9th February 2014 – our sons, Ralph and Jake, and I were with him.

Louis was diagnosed with prostate cancer 7 years ago – he was just 54.  His prognosis was pretty poor – so living this long has been a real bonus.  Louis just got on with life and lived with cancer – he definitely wasn’t a victim, sufferer or cancer fighter – he carried on working, but did stop teaching, and squeezed as much fun into everyday. He had a huge and wide number of interests – fishing, sailing, running, bike, golf, reading, writing, mushroom foraging, woodworking, breadmaking, snowboarding… and he was good at them all!

Last June he started to write full time – and around 450,000 words later we have 4 books (a boxed set!).  I promised  him that  I will get them published as soon as I can – there is still work to do but Louis  jumps out from every page.

Louis had no fear of death, although he would admit to wanting to live another 20 years- he had so much to do. He wanted no funeral, so we are having a party on Monday 17th Feb at our local beach café to celebrate him – we expect a crowd!  Louis made 2 requests – no black and he asked his very, very special friend Mick Thacker to speak.  Very few people and patients in Falmouth, where we live and work, know what Louis has done professionally.  To most he was just the local, but well respected, Chartered Physiotherapist at Swanpool – he didn’t want or need to be anything else.

A  remarkable, humble human.

We have received many amazing messages from all over the world and we would like to thank everybody for taking the time to write.  Louis touched (literally!) many people’s lives and he would be thrilled to see the words and thoughts of you all.  We will have another book of appreciation.

Thank you.

Philippa Tindle, Ralph and Jake Gifford

This blog will be kept open and I will add any material I have of Louis’s.  Louis was unable to write his ‘centralisation’ piece as promised because his new books took priority. Sorry.

42 thoughts on “Message from Philippa, Louis’s wife and partner

  1. Dear Philippa,

    So sorry to hear of your tremendous loss. My brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 50, and at age 72, continues to battle it.

    But also happy hear of your success in your physiotherapy practice. Hope to someday return England for a cuppa or something somewhat stronger.

    Kate Verplank

    • Hi Kate
      Thanks for your comment on Louis’ blog. And I’m pleased your brother has lived for may years post diagnosis. Apologies but I can’t remember Kate Verplank? Kathryn Boll? I need a reminder. All the best Philippa

  2. Dear Phillipa,
    I was fortunate to meet louis on one of his courses 12 years ago. My wife was expecting at the time and on our sons birth I said I’ve got it we we’ll call him “Louis”. I’m not your typical academic physio I’m very matter of fact but my passion is helping one and all and I instantly knew I had a kindred spirit in Louis ( except he was exceptionally gifted and a grafter ) I would like you to know my Louis is now 12 and full of normal little boy stuff and wanting to create a happier world for all those around him. I’m so sorry I’ve just heard of Louis passing but please accept he is still influencing people today and is still in all our thoughts. Long live louis. Ian

  3. Please may I pass on my condolences.I wanted to email Louis to express my gratitude as a qualified osteopath on being such a leader not only for the physiotherapy profession but for all interested in the difficult world pain.
    I have been reading Topical Issues in Pain 3 and feel the Einstein quote not only incredibly profound but also a testament to the thinkers, like Louis, whom we can only follow :-Einstein in 1926 told Heisenberg it was nonsense to found theory on observable facts alone”In reality the very opposite happens.It is theory which decides what we can observe”.
    Many thanks and RIP.

  4. Dear Philippa,

    I was so sorry to hear about Louis. He was an amazing man and I gained so much from him over the years.

    I presented a talk at the British Chiropractic Association’s Spring conference this weekend. Half way through my talk, and on observing 600 nodding heads, I suddenly thought “Louis would be pleased”

    Best wishes,


  5. So sorry to hear about Louis. Deepest sympathies to all his family. Fiona and I remember him so well; we spent many a happy time on Louis’ courses; he will be thought of fondly by everyone who knew him.


  6. I was so sorry to hear this news today – I was looking for articles on “pink flags” and then was so saddened to come across this news. I attended Louis’s courses in the late 90’s early 2000’s and then knew I needed to ensure he reached more physio’s and organised further courses at the hospital I was working at. His passion and inspiration totally changed my outlook on treating the chronic pain populations and thinking about pain. To this day (even after emigrating to Canada) I continue to use his analogies in my work and when trying to decipher what makes someone tick – both patients and staff!!!
    The world became a little less bright today. Thank you for your inspiration and my condolences to Philippa and your sons.

  7. So sorry to hear about louis.
    I wanted you to know, having been on many of his courses and read the box set of clinical biology of aches and pains, that as a Physio working in pain management and now in spinal triage, Louis has been inspirational to my understanding and passion for managing pain. I have also been able to use this knowledge to help my colleagues and junior therapists in their understanding too. Thank you Louis a pleasure to have met him. His knowledge lives on!!

  8. Dear Phillipa,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Louis was such an inspiration to us all and helped to open up the Physio world from manual therapy to such much more. As a Cornish girl I loved to hear a Cornish accent at Conferences! He was so lovely when treating my father Jim Beeching a while back and gave both my parents the confidence to get moving ! I understand that you think the locals didn’t know what a large contribution Louis made to Physio but they definitely knew that he had special qualities and a different way of treating. My thoughts are with you and your boys at this time
    Amanda Harris

  9. Just wanted to say how sad I was to hear this news. Louis was an absolute legend- a fantastic and inspiring lecturer. He will be sadly missed in the physio and pain world.

  10. Dear Philippa. Me and Sigga were very sorry to hear that Louis had passed away. When I got the news I thought back to the time when I met him back in 1993 when we did our Master´s degree in manipulative physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. I remember that I thought him to be a handsome bloke but what struck me were the beauty of his eyes with this deep enthusiastic glimpse to them. If it is true that the eyes are a mirror to the soul his must be exceptional. Back then I envied Louis of two things, one was his sharp thought and the other what a great lateral thinker he was. If there was a problem he was great in resolving them, finding a new angle. I remember when we were supposed to do an assignment in clinical reasoning he turned it into a quiz show where all the questions revolved about different aspects of clinical reasoning. He gave us, his fellow student´s, some lectures on his thoughts on aches and pains, and the involvement of the nervous system in such problems, centralization and peripheralization and so on. I remember back then it was a big revelation as few people were thinking on these lines but I presume that describes Louis well, he was always a bit ahead of the rest of us. Dear Philippa, our condolences to you and your boys, your loss is big. With kind regards from Iceland, Gústi and Sigga.

  11. Nicolas from Chile captures the essence of what I learned from many years of personal interactions – serious , stimulating , insane, funny and bizarre emails /references/books and shared experiences .
    The essence of the pain revolution which Louis stimulated is that the science may be complex and often perplexing but often the therapy can be very simple …Its the interaction , communication and the human qualities that count . Louis embodied this ..,a thinker , a great writer , a ‘paradigm shifter’ a person who stimulated curiosity in fields outside normal education (stress biology/neuroplasticity,evolutionary biology,stress biology) .Through his promptings the mechanistic and limited pseudo orthopaedic thinking was replaced by optimistic and more stimulating material …..He was years ahead of his time …his thinking and writing still is and the work hasn’t really penetrated a great deal of mainstream thinking and education . However , many people have been influenced deeply by his writing and the courses they attended . Many patients have benefited and individual therapists have been ‘rescued’ from frustration and burn out – me included.
    For me though anyone can be really clever if they are blessed with a keen intellect like Louis but few can be really human and humane – translating the ‘cleverness’ and intellect into practical actions . I was lucky to see Louis at first hand translating the pain physiology language into plain English and to see the powerful effect communication can have in engendering new understanding and behaviour …I believe Louis was a true pioneer in his field.
    Louis challenged established thinking and one well known massive debate still makes me smile!
    However , as many people would say in the UK , Louis was just a really good bloke ..honest , caring , funny and unselfish (despite having a unhealthy interest in selfish genes !) …..he certainly was more than a ‘gene therapist’ as he famously wrote somewhere …He ran for charity and did a lot of other really interesting stuff . He will be missed by many people — a one off character who had much more to offer the world . I will miss everything about Louis a good man.

  12. Hi Philippa
    I’ve just seen your message today and am so very sorry to hear the sad news. I’m one of those patients that Louis touched as he helped me turn my life around after enduring over 30 years of terrible headaches. I believe he was even planning on using my story in one of his books! He will forever live on in my memory as an exceptionally gifted, yet down-to-earth kind of guy and I came to regard him as a friend. He made himself available and nothing seemed too much trouble …. always on hand with bucketful’s of encouragement and good advice. A lovely, kind, human being and such a sad loss. He will live on though, in the lives of so many people like me, who you will never know, and I hope that you, together with Ralph and Jake are able to take some comfort from this thought.
    Hope the party went well and that it was a true celebration of a very special life.

  13. I was fortunate to have been treated by Louis some years ago as was my Mother and it came as a huge shock to learn of his passing. Rest in Peace and watch over your beloved family.

  14. I was living in the USA and read Louis’s articles. An author from Falmouth!! – i’m a plymouth boy. His writings and thoughts were career changing and lead not only me , but the physio profession down this new route.A great loss to us all.May you find peace at this time. Bring on the books!
    Paul – Saltash

  15. I was very saddened by your news. I was inspired by Louis in the 1990’s when he came to St George’s in Tooting to teach some courses for us. I haven’t forgotten what he taught or what he was like, he was such an inspiration, so enthusiastic about his work but also had a great sense of humour and knew how to have fun!

  16. Dear Philippa and family,
    I’m extremely saddened to hear Louis is no longer with us. Since I first met Louis, he has been an inspiration and his creative thoughts ideas and models have been a support to me as a clinician and educator. I’m indebted to him.
    I hope the gathering in celebration of Louis’s life last night was lively – I’ve no doubt Mick will have given a great speech.
    I look forward to his books
    John Hammond

  17. Why this should shock and upset me when I never new him is bewildering but then I think that shows just how amazing his work was. More importantly, he communicated his thoughts and ideas in a way that was real and believable, managing to inspire and make us question our work. A sad loss but an amazing legacy. Thank you Louis.

  18. Dear Philippa, my sincere condolences for you and your sons. Louis’ work was and is for me a great opportunity for the growth of my practice.
    Kind Regards,
    Andrea Celso, an Italian Physiotherapist

  19. You have shown admirable courage in sharing this with us. I met Louis once in 2008. He recommended “The brain that changes itself” to me and offered me his email address for feedback. This is a book that I’ve recommended to clinicians and patients countless times since.. I only came to this site to thank him for it as it helped with a recent patient.


  20. I was very sad to hear about Louis. I left physio a few years ago but came back into it and stayed when I found clinical pain science with Louis’ work being a massive influence. I met him once just before I started my course in pain management; he was very kind to me and I only wish I could have had the chance to meet him again to pick his brains!

    My condolences to you all but I would like to echo some of the comments on here and say he left the world a better place. His drive for a more robust, scientific base to physiotherapy was an inspiration.


  21. This came as a big surprise
    My thoughts are with your family and I appreciate your choice.
    Yes why be in black when you can party instead, even when leaving this world you choose to send a clear positive note.
    Cheers Louis,
    You worked hard and lived and delivered, your work has been a true source of inspiration and knowledge to me and many others.
    Cheers and Thank you

  22. Philippa, I’m deeply sorry to hear the sad news. I’m a chilean physio and I’m convinced that your husband’s work will continue to guide many collegues for years to come. From his blog and books I could tell he was a fantastic human being, and I think that was his greatest lesson…you can be a professional pioneer, but when dealing with human suffering the most important tool is your empathy and your own feelings.
    Kind regards,

  23. What a great loss…My condolences to you and your family. The Topical Issues in Pain are legendary and thought provoking. His pioneering contribution to pain management physiotherapy has been inspirational and continues to live in his published work. I look forward to reading more.

  24. I was a student of physiotherapy following after Louis at the University of South Australia, Adelaide, where an original manuscript thesis of his sat in the library and was read by me preceding an undergraduate research project in 1989. My research buddy and I even used a shoulder stabilsing measuring device he left there. But my best consumption of Louis physiotherapy product was and still is his chapters on the Mature Organism Model of pain. This really helped me conceptualise “pain as an output”, the brain-body integration of pain and psychological influences in a way that has been clinically and educationally useful. Very sad to hear that his wonderful thinking self is lost.

  25. Dear Phillipa, My sincere condolences to your and your family at this time of great loss. I only met Louis once in the Netherlands – his humour, intellect, courage and insight will last in my memory (and the memories of many others). He left the world a better place. Kind regards, Peter

  26. I only found Louis’ writings last year, and quickly became a fan, both of his knowledge and perspective, but also his personality, which shines through his writing. I was quite saddened to hear the news earlier this week. You and your sons are in my thoughts.


  27. I was one of those who Louis touched the life. I feel so sad, almost a year ago I lost Kevin Banks and now Louis.
    All the best for you, Ralph and Jake
    big hug from Spain

  28. I am so sorry to hear the sad news. I was one of many physios inspired by Louis’s writing. He will be missed by people like me who didn’t even know him properly. I wish you, his family love at this hard time

  29. Dear Philippa,
    It was such a shock to hear of Louis untimely death. We go back to 1985 in Adelaide when Louis did the post grad course. At that time he was a brilliant and innovative physio and throughout his life continued to be so.
    Then we all got together in Swanpool with my brother, Pitre, Monique and baby Nathan stayed . At that time Ralph was a baby.
    I’m sorry, it was good that Louis was able to live life to the fullest. Look forward to the book. Please keep me up to date.
    My condolences to you and the family
    Margaret Anderson

  30. Hi Philippa,
    I am so sorry to hear that Louis died recently. He was an inspirational character to many Physio’s including myself. Thank you for sending us all this message. I hope you and the rest of his family are coping OK.


  31. I am so sorry to hear this news. I have been fortunate in my working life to have been one of Louis’s students many years ago and I have never forgotten the inspiration of his work. My thoughts are with you all at this time.

  32. Phillipa – from the physios in South Africa – Since we met you years ago, Louis and his words were always special to us. May he rest in peace and may you find fulfillment in all the good memories you have of him. Ina Diener

  33. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a major contributor to a large shift in my clinical paradigm; he was a pioneer in the clinical pain sciences as well. I look forward to you publishing his books and any last but of info on this blog.
    -Tim Irving
    Portland, OR, USA

  34. So very sorry to hear such sad news about thoughts are with you and your family. He was well respected within the physiotherapy community.

  35. Dear Philippa, I was so sad to hear of Louis’s death. I never knew him personally but his writing & teacher were extremely influential in how I practiced as a Physio and the research I now do. I wish you and your sons all the best and you should be so proud of Louis and his legacy. Best wishes, Esther

    Sent from my iPhone


  36. Dear Phillipa,

    What sad, sad news. I had hoped from Louis’s comments in emails in August and the steady blog posts to end of Nov that things had settled down, he had gained a lot more time and was focussed on the book. It must be hard for you and the boys to have such a great part of your lives taken from you. That he was trying to get on with life probably makes it more of a blow. So often it is the quiet enjoyment of life’s little day-to-day routines which are the profound moments.

    Louis was a man I looked up to and would have liked to know more deeply. He was peerless in his ability to take the deep technical stuff of pain research and re-cast it into an accessible language; for any discipline making the complex simple without being simplistic is a very great skill. I offered proofreading at a distance to Louis, and remake that offer if it might ease your work in getting the book published.

    I had the pleasure of being on one of Louis’ nerve root courses and the privilege of chatting with him at one or more Physiofirst conferences. His passion for life was clear and I shall miss him. I am honoured that he took time out from the book writing and blog to reply to my emails last autumn; I shall treasure the replies.

    Much as I would like to join the party tomorrow to celebrate Louis’ life, I am up in Yorkshire. Instead, I shall raise a glass and think of him sitting in his boat with a roll-up, fishing for bass or pollock.

    Hugs from afar,


  37. Hello Philippa and family – Thank you very much for letting us know of your loss in such an eloquent way. There are no adequate words from others, at a time like this. My Dad passed away from prostate cancer secondaries on the 14 January this year, therefore I may share some common thoughts.
    We will all leave a legacy of some sort when we cease living, some more than others but a legacy nonetheless. Some rare individuals continue their contribution beyond their physical life – and I suspect that Louis is one of those rarities. Remember the good times, as there is little value in doing anything else. My thoughts are with you all. Mark Quittner MrPhysio+ Healesville Australia

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