A MEDICAL pioneer whose work led to the birth of millions of babies has been honoured with a plaque at the Witney house he grew up in.

Patrick Steptoe, who helped spearhead In vitro fertilisation (IVF), lived at 52 West End between the ages of four and 30.

Mr Steptoe’s revolutionary breakthrough at Royal Oldham Hospital resulted in the birth of the first ‘test tube baby’, Louise Brown, in 1978, with an estimated eight million more following since then.

He died in 1988, but a host of former colleagues gathered outside the gynaecologist’s childhood home on Saturday for the unveiling by the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board.

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His son, Professor Andrew Steptoe, spoke at the ceremony and put his father’s achievements into context.

He said: “It was an extraordinary effort - the millions of people born through IVF around the world are testament to the impact he had.

“IVF has now become a fairly routine activity and he would have very much liked that.”

Patrick Steptoe was born in 1913 and was one of 10 children.

He attended Witney Grammar School, now The Henry Box School, playing the organ at St Mary’s Church as a teenager.

Mr Steptoe read medicine at King’s College London and served in the navy throughout the Second World War - including a two-year stint as a prisoner of war in Italy.

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In 1951, he became consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Oldham Hospital, where he developed a special interest in female infertility.

Seventeen years later, he began to work with Robert Edwards and the pair collaborated on IVF, where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body.

It was several decades before the duo’s work was fully recognised, with Mr Edwards awarded a Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine after his partner’s death in 2010.

After Ms Brown’s birth, Mr Steptoe retired from the NHS and founded the Bourn Hall clinic near Cambridge, alongside Mr Edwards.

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He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1987 and received a CBE shortly before his death a year later.

The plaque in West End is the third in memory of Mr Steptoe.

In 2013, Ms Brown and Alastair MacDonald, the world’s first IVF baby boy, unveiled a plaque at the Bourn Hall clinic.

He is also commemorated at the maternity ward at the Royal Oldham Hospital.