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Medical Graduates of 1944

1944 – 57 Year Reunion


57th Year Reunion, Held at Trusthouse Heritage Hotel, Stratford upon Avon, Friday, 27th April 2001.


There were 22 present.


This was a most successful reunion in spite of the fact that we had lost some of our regular members during the last year. After remembering them and expressing our regrets we continued with the celebration as we know they would have wished us to do.


We were delighted to see Malcolm Lower and Beth. He is disabled but made a great effort to be present. He had served in the Navy at Portland and played golf at the Came Down Club. There were some jokes about his auburn hair – long since gone.


It was good to see Leslie Stephens and Betty. He gave a long explanation as to why he was given the nickname “Bones” – it was something to do with Ernie Simms – now there is a name to take you back a few years! It all depends on how well you remember the anatomy department.


We enjoyed having Joan and her charming daughter Amanda (Astley) present. Roy would have been very proud of them.


An astonishingly young looking Graham and Jill Poole were present. I must find out what vitamins they take.


Nola Bentley and son Edward are regulars at our functions. We were invited to visit them at their home at Beaumaris on Anglesea where we would be most welcome.


Jimmy Kendall from Oswestry – another regular – great fun and a great golfer (but he never answers the telephone!) I noticed how he enjoyed kissing the ladies. (They appeared to enjoy it too.)


Claire O’Meara – dear Claire! She chose the menu, which was excellent. She attends the services when colleagues depart this globe. I cannot imagine a reunion without her and she looks after Kevin so devotedly now that he is unable to attend our functions.


Kay Greenway (Bee) attended and we were all most pleased to see her. Me especially so as she kissed me rather passionately – why didn’t she do so when I was 19 or 20? What I missed!


Dear old Richard Reeves – never misses a reunion. So distinguished and so vague – reunions would not be the same without him.


Katie Pippard (Fox) and John – looking younger than ever. What a lucky chap John was – and is. I suppose as a consultant psychiatrist meeting this charming lady doctor he did a bit of hypno-therapy. I would like to see a photo of them both in their R.A.M.C. uniforms.


Lynne Dencer attended and invited us back to her home after breakfast – in memory of Derek whom she lost during the past year. We were sorry not to have Theresa Lazaar present as she was admitted to hospital that same evening. Theresa was a refugee from Hungary, very bright and much loved by us all. We do hope she will soon recover and be with us next year.


During dinner a photograph of the “2nd year Medical Students” taken in October 1939 was passed round. The names were all there and we were all able to see how good looking we were at 19 years of age.


It was suggested that since we are getting beyond our “best sell by date” perhaps this should be our last reunion.


However, it was unanimously voted to continue with great enthusiasm.


We had letters of regret from Hain (in the U.S.A.), Mary Brown, Audrey Roberts, Hilda Morgan, Margaret Thompson, Winifred Mitchell, Mac and Barbara Cooke, Pip Hughes, Deryck Campbell, John Weston-Smith, and Kevin O’Meara.


We wish them all well.


John Cox


1944 – 58 Year Reunion


The 58th Year reunion held at the Swan’s Nest Hotel, Stratford-on-Avon, 3rd May 2002. There were 11 graduates from 1944 present and 8 guests.


Apologies had been received from:

  • Deryck Campbell – Fractured hip.

  • Pip Hughes – Knee replacement.

  • Winifred Mitchell – In a home in Llandudno.

  • Mary Brown – Disabled with arthritis.

  • Evelyn Crawford – Who finds reunions “too sad”.

  • Joan Redman – Who has a nurse to look after her, but was very cheerful on the phone.

  • Barbara Rose (Cooke) – Who was not well enough to attend but sent her love and best wishes to us all.

  • Margaret Thompson – Was not well enough to attend. She recounted how she played sardines at a children’s party in Edgbaston when she was 11. She was tucked in a cupboard with Richard Reeves – happy days!


Notes on the Reunion


A most successful reunion. We were all so happy and as we talked the years slipped away.


John Weston Smith and Beryl, John in a wheel-chair, remembered how his bee keeping paid off when he gave a jar of honey to Charlie Smout each week.


Richard Reeves, whose eyesight is failing, reminded us of nights spent on the roof of the Medical School and Queen Elizabeth Hospital ready to deal with incendiary bombs. We also remembered being very cold at night in the hospitals established under Lewis’s store, and under Ansell’s brewery awaiting casualties from the blitz on Birmingham.


Lawrence Stephens (Bones) said Grace, and a very charming Grace it was. Betty was too ill to come this year. We missed her.


Jimmy Kendall was on top form. He is so fit and his golf handicap is now down to 3. I was quite embarrassed to admit that I still play off 24. I had a long chat with Jim and was very pleased when he said that we must meet again next year.


Claire O’Meara came despite having lost Kevin so recently. Dear Claire, some of us know only too well how you felt. We were all glad you came. Reunions would not be the same without you.


Joan Astley and Amanda looked glamorous. Roy Astley had organised the reunions for years with the help of Joan, his wife. In his final illness a bed was not found for him at Birmingham. He was taken down to Luton. His life had been devoted to the Children’s Hospital and I find it to be almost unbelievable that a bed could not have been found for him at the Q. E.


Graham and Jill Poole looked extremely smart. Margery was captivated by Jill’s suit and I have a feeling that I will be paying out in the near future.


Nola Bentley and son Edward were in excellent form and Nola said that she found it hard to believe that we are all as old as we are.


Kay Bee was as charming as ever. When her son arrived to take her home, I told him that his sister was not ready to leave yet.


John Pippard, who is married to Kathleen (Fox), is one of the few sane psychiatrists I have met in 40 years of medicine. A delightful couple – so lucky to have each other and so much fun at a party.


Theresa Lazar – one of the exceptionally bright people in our year, but she did not admire my blue eyes this time! Theresa was bright and cheerful and had recovered from the illness which kept her away last year. She has such natural charm and dignity that we all wanted to give her a big hug and a kiss – I did not dare.


Lynn Dencer came, and we were reminded of Derek, not that we were likely to forget him. After breakfast on the Saturday a few of us met at her house. I remembered it well, for my wife and I got extremely merry at a party Derek gave years ago. After all it is not often that one has to go upstairs on hands and knees!!


I was there with Margery Cameron, a Graduate of Belfast.


We all hope and pray that we are still around for a reunion next year.


John Cox


59th Reunion of 1944 graduates


The 59th Year reunion was held at the Swan’s Nest Hotel, Stratford-on-Avon, on Friday 25th April 2003. There were 15 present.


Apologies had been received from:

  • Deryck Campbell – Now confined to his house. He still enjoys drinking Johnnie Walker Black Label and smoking Balkan Sobranie – he had expensive tastes even as a student.

  • Evelyn Crawford – She finds it too far to travel but sends her best wishes to us all.

  • Joan Readman – Is too ill to travel but remembers us all and sends her best wishes.

  • Margaret Thompson – Is no longer able to travel from her home. She was very “chatty” on the phone and sends her love to us all – especially to me but unfortunately 59 years too late!

  • John Weston Smith – Has lost his wife Beryl very recently. We remember her well – John felt too distressed at present to come to this reunion but asked to be remembered to us all.

  • Ernie Wadge – Sends his best wishes but tells me that he no longer really enjoys these occasions.

  • Theresa Lazaar – Dear Theresa suffered a massive stroke a few days after enjoying our last reunion – she can understand well when you speak to her on the phone but has some difficulty in getting her words out. She was sad at being unable to be with us.

  • Winifred Mitchell – Is in a nursing home in Llandudno.

  • Nola Bentley called to see her recently and was not sure if at first she was recognised – but after a short time she was, and dear Winifred sends her love to us all.

  • Richard Reeves – Has never previously missed a reunion but his eyesight is now so poor that he can no longer cope with strange surroundings. He was most sad at not being with us and on our part we were most disappointed not to have our extremely dignified, white haired, absent minded professor with us this year.

Notes on the reunion


This year’s reunion was a most happy and successful occasion. The Graduates of 1944 are all now over 80 years of age but you would never have thought so.


Graham Poole and Jill (a 1949 Graduate) were great fun and appeared to forget completely that Graham is awaiting his second hip replacement.


Jimmy Kendall, who has not aged at all and is shocked by losing at golf to his grandson!


Clare O’Meara was congratulated on the excellent menu she had chosen. Dear Clare is unlikely to ever recover completely from losing Kevin who had been her “beau” from her first year medicine in 1938.


Nola Bentley was present with her delightful son Edward – Nola was so attractive that the “boys” of the second year in 1939 were too overawed to invite her out – Nola says she was too shy.


Kay Bee and her son Simon were there – I told him to take great care of his ‘sister’ but Kay told me he is known as her ‘Toy Boy’ – (by people who do not know them very well).


Kathleen Fox and her husband John were both so young looking and attractive. John was a Colonel in the R.A.M.C. and so was able to tell us that the port should go round after the coffee!!


Lynn Dencer was there to remind us of dear Derek – I reminded her of Derek’s famous answer to the question “Do you still drive a ‘Jag’, Derek?’ – “No a ‘Roller’, old boy.”


We were delighted to have Joan Astley and her charming daughter Amanda – we remembered Roy who organised the reunion for many years.


I was there with Margery Cameron, a graduate of Belfast.


We all had a most enjoyable evening – the hotel did everything to perfection and the only thing we lacked was the red carpet.


We all hope we will be able to make the 60th and last reunion next year – if we are still around, we will be there.


John Cox


Birmingham Medical Reunion of 1944 graduates


The 60th and Final Annual Reunion was held at the Swan’s Nest Hotel Stratford-on-Avon on 7th May 2004. 21 were present of whom 10 were graduates from 1944.


Apologies had been received from:

  • Deryck Campbell – Still confined to his house. However, he still enjoys drinking Johnnie Walker Black Label and smoking Balkan Sobranie tobacco. One day I hope to get to Derby and surprise him. As students we were quite close friends.

  • Richard Reeves – He had tried so hard to be with us but with his failing eyesight and a degree of memory loss, his wife Mary and his son decided that it would be unwise of him to come. We missed him dearly as he was a well loved member of our small community. Not to see our “Absent minded professor” saddened us all.

  • Evelyn Crawford – Sent her apologies. I was determined to get Evelyn to our final reunion. Graham Poole agreed to bring her and I was prepared to take her home, but no, Evelyn would not agree and so we failed. We could do no more.

  • Winifred Mitchell – In a nursing home in Llandudno. She was really in no fit state to know about the reunion, how very, very sad. Dear Winifred, we remember her as a very charming young student, (in love with Sammy Green).

  • Thereza Lazaar – in a nursing home in Solihull. Her progress following a stroke some years ago has not been as good as we all had hoped it would be. Thereza can understand things quite well but has problems in answering. Margaret Thompson and her daughter Ann were to visit Thereza after the reunion and give her our best wishes, indeed the love from her fellow graduates, especially ME.


Notes on the reunion


When one looks back during a final reunion there is bound to be a degree of sadness. This did not show. A more animated group you never did see.


Margaret Thompson came with her daughter Ann – quite a charmer! We remember Margaret in her “salad days” as an attractive and brilliant young lady.


John Weston Smith gave us a Grace full of depth and said with quiet Conviction. Thank you John for coming to the reunion and entering into the party spirit with great zest, despite your “back trouble”.


Ernie Wadge & his wife Jean decided to come to this final reunion. We had not seen them for a year or so. Both belied their years. As you look at Ernie and Jean it is increasingly difficult to believe that we are all over 80 years of age. We were so pleased to see them this year chatting and laughing together as we did 60 years ago.


Graham Poole and Jill (a 1949 graduate) were great fun. Graham gave a short talk ending with “Ode to a Nightingale” by Keats. A famous poem which he and I learned at school.


Jimmy Kendall stood and thanked me for organising the reunion and for helping to keep us in touch with one another. He was so busy “chatting up” the ladies that I was pleasantly surprised that he found time to fit me in. I used to say that Kidderminster was famous for three things – Roland Hill, Carpets and Jimmy Kendall.


Clare Butler (O’Meara) whom I remembered in 1939 when she arrived at the medical school in a silver coloured “Vauxhall 10”. She and Kevin O’Meara were already attached from 1st year medicine in 1938. She was in good form at this reunion as she has been at all our previous ones. She did not choose the menu this year – I did – it would have been better if I had left it to Clare. However, she was kind enough to say “it was not too bad”.


Nola Bentley and her son Edward are “regulars” at our reunions. Nola is lucky to have a chauffeur. She looked around the group again and said that she could not believe we were as old as we are.


I mentioned that we had lost one of our year recently. Joan Readman (Baker) died peacefully 8 weeks ago. She had been ill for some time following a stroke.


Kay Bee and her son Simon were there. Another graduate with a chauffeur. Kay enjoyed herself so much that she asked me, “could we not meet again?” I think we may if enough of us desire it.


Kathleen Fox and her husband John (a London graduate) – both very attractive and young looking. I can picture Kathleen as an R.A.M.C. Captain – no wonder John, “snapped her up”. He would have had some serious competition if I had been around!! John is a great asset and gave a speech on behalf of the guests.


Lynn Dencer reminded us of Derek who, apart from running a Rolls Royce, was lucky enough to marry a lovely lady 30 years younger than himself.


Joan Astley was there with her daughter Amanda. Roy Astley organised the reunion for many years and I followed on after his passing. It follows that Joan and Amanda are part of us and any reunion would be incomplete without them. Please remember Joan, that we do not forget the sterling work Roy did.


We had a stranger in our midst. One Peter Stuart Smith who qualified a year ahead of the rest of us. He proposed a toast to the Birmingham Medical School. This was somewhat surprising as he was a student at Cambridge. He did it well and made us all laugh. He, Ernie Wadge and Jimmy Kendall found that they were old mates.


I was there with my friend Margery Cameron, a graduate of Belfast.


Overall it was a remarkably enjoyable evening and so successful that we all asked, “Is this really our last reunion?”


We will have to see what the future holds. Regards to you all.


John Cox

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