Hewading 1Winners of the Sands Cox CHAAY pRIZE
Medical Graduates of 1965
1965 Graduates 50 Year Reunion
Fifty-year reunions are worth a special effort. John Kiernan’s wife flew from Ontario in a plaster cast, George walked in in agony from cervical spinal compression, Charlie pushed Sylvia in a wheel chair and Janine came on sticks, such was their determination to celebrate. Others flew from Hong Kong, California (Beverley Hills if you please!), Cincinnati, Canada, Norway, Pakistan (The Naval Anchorage in Islamabad), Australia and Jersey.
Non-migrants with new knees, hips and stents came in their droves, from the leafier corners of Dudley to the pig farms of Ceredigian.
Two years of dogged searching through an out-dated Medical Directory bought on Amazon for £2.50, the Internet, GMC, Norwegian Medical Association, Google Earth, Amazon.com (Firouz‘s book), answering machines nobody listened to, and inconvenient phone calls at three a.m. to new wives and estranged husbands located eighty-eight of a hundred fellow graduates in distant corners of the globe. Twenty-two had passed on and were fondly remembered, twelve were untraceable, eighteen were unable to attend through illness or prior engagements, and a few – only a few – stubbornly declined. To his eternal regret one couldn’t wrench himself away from his idyll in the Southern Australia vineyards, but forty-eight made it with or without partners and spouses.
In the garden on the evening of the first day of this three-day event in balmy August weather at Hornton Grange, Edgbaston, eighty-two of us were lubricated with Prosecco before devouring a massive barbeque and settling in to animated outpourings of our life histories. We adjusted our glasses, read the name-badges, scrutinized facial characteristics and said,
“Ah yes, you’re…….. You still owe me…..”.
The all-day programme that ensued saw us revisiting old Medical School haunts guided by five fresh undergraduate volunteers from their year of 400+! How teaching had changed. Anatomy is now taught through a virtual body-length computer costing £50,000. But some old chestnuts were still on display; that black and white photo of the imperious Charles Frederick Victor Smout, maestro of the female pelvis, was still hanging there. We sat in the Leonard Deacon Lecture Theatre more attentively than in past-times to be enthralled by lectures on topics close to our hearts like cancer therapy, the curriculum and research and development. Staff House provided lunch and Hornton Grange hosted a sumptuous banquet in the evening, the greatest challenge of which was the formal table plan – which rapidly descended into chaos as everybody wanted to catch up with those sitting over there. Wong gifted CDs of his orchestra, others came with such memorabilia as Mary Ducrow’s posthumous thesis on The History of the General Hospital Birmingham, Asher flashed his costly camera at most of us, Martin told a great joke about heaven and infidelity, Rob played MC, and eventually all staggered off happily to bed. Failure to exhaust our wine budget left funds to produce a much admired photo album, distributed to all at Christmas as a memento of this homage to senescence. This album featured passport photos taken fifty years ago when we entered medical school, discarded by the Dean but rescued from his waste paper basket and coveted for forty years by Chris Rolles. Alongside pictures from Martin Jones, our official photographer, and paparazzi shots from others we compared ourselves then with us now. Those large print name-badges had been a vital ingredient of this feast of reminiscences, whose flavours we’ll savour for the rest of our lives.
Ben Bradley, Martin Kendall