1.       MUSIC - A Hobby for Life - Rod Summers
2.       Medical Society Dinner - Nicola and Andrew Cox
3.       A Welsh Weekend
4.       The Medical Society BarBQ - Judith Hardwick

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MUSIC - A Hobby for Life

  Wyre Forest abounds with musical talent, from soloists to rank and file. There are also some exotic beasts amongst us: a big man with a beard in Stourport makes harpsichords, and a well-known urologist specialises in the works of Samuel Barber, as well as being a harpsichord addict - is there something in the water? We have string players, a clarinettist, organist, flautist, and an outstanding bassist, not to mention many part time pianists.

The recipient of a good musical grounding, I had the good fortune to chair the WFSO for several years. This carried responsibility as well as pleasure. During my time the orchestra expanded, with players drawn from around the county, enabling us to move from the classics up to the 20th century. At £1000 a concert, a good programme is essential, an empty house meaning an early night and nil in the bank. Recently there have been some disappointing attendance figures, and the fresh officers have to learn these lessons all over again. Put on popular works and you get an audience, but try the abstruse and you lose them and go in the red.

I learned too the value of wordy programme, with pictures, for our public to read in the boring parts until the interval drinks. The policy has generally kept their interest - apart from the pre-terminal and the profoundly deaf, who, as in the viola section, can be found asleep on the back row.

28 years ago four of us formed a string quartet, and real practice started. Many years later I joined the part-time but excellent Chandos Symphony Orchestra. They specialise in the unplayable. After further hard work the rudiments of a decent player emerged, much to my delight. So now I have a hobby to carry into retirement, and in which I continue to make new friends.

There has been the doctoring too, but this life is familiar to you all. I did 28 years in Kidderminster followed by a stint in the Benefits Agency. Here was a different world, our clients the fat folder group, our task to protect the incapacitated, and identify the work-shy. One had to admire the real players, with their wide range of creative disorders; relative arthropathies, type 51 headaches, the lot. The best know the ropes to a tee. The classic presentation - perhaps deserving admiration - is the “Full Hand” - a neck brace, dark glasses, cough, limp and stick. For an encore the addition of deafness is worth an extra 15 points on the scorecard. Sadly for us but to the joy of the planners our work was often reversed by a flaccid appeal system. And so it would roll on.

While my BA years were in retrospect meaningless, I look back with great satisfaction at my years in GP. We are so blessed to have the position, respect, and security that so many others lack.

At the recent Medical Society dinner I was struck by the friendship I received, and not only from my contemporaries. A whole class of superb young doctors has emerged, from whom I also received great warmth, and whom I greet sincerely. The profession is in fine hands. I thank all my colleagues old and new for being such good friends.

 Rod Summers  

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Medical Society Dinner

We must have been the audience from hell – 110 scientifically minded, trained clinical observers subjecting our magician entertainers to intense sceptical scrutiny! Nevertheless, the most overheard phrase of the evening was “How did he do that?”

As always, the opportunity to don glad rags and meet en masse was clearly welcomed by the many guests, all trying to make the most of the annual dinner to catch up on old friends – in the initial bar crush beforehand, at the packed tables for the formal meal, and general circulation afterwards.        

 The excellent food – Spring Grove up to standard yet again – was enlivened and enhanced by small group entertainment from our strolling conjurors, Jay Dizone and Chris Priest. Coffee was followed by an outstanding climax of a “cabaret” style finale. Jo Stanley and Tony de Cothi were “volunteer” victims, with fixed grins and tightly crossed fingers as her watch disappeared and his jacket was (apparently) slashed and burned. One performer tease a 6” nail up his nostril, and the other spectacularly consumed fire – which certainly felt very hot from where I was sitting! – to the consternation of many. Martin Porter’s face in particular was a picture.

The huge turnout and wonderful atmosphere reflected the successful social calendar this year, which has benefited enormously from the combined efforts of our energetic social secretary, David Malcolmson, and enthusiastic President, Jan Meggy. A superb nights entertainment - magic stuff indeed!



Andrew has recently become a Partner at York House in Stourport and Nicola is a Part time Salaried GP at Great Witley Surgery with a few extra sessions in the Wyre Forest . We met over a pint of cheap beer at Birmingham University and did our GP training at Kidderminster and Worcester Hospitals . Andrew's claim to fame (apart from helping to make the world's largest trifle) was waving the last acute patients off to Worcester as Kidderminster hospital closed. We have just returned from fifteen months of travel, mostly working as GPs in the beautiful Art Deco town of Napier on the east coast of New Zealand 's North Island . It was surrounded by beautiful mountains, forests and enticing wineries so not entirely dissimilar to the Wyre Forest . Strangely enough the local hospital had just relocated to the next town! General Practice in New Zealand is based on the UK system although is mainly private. After working we had a fantastic time travelling around New Zealand , Australia and Asia . Now it is back to reality and it is nice to be home.

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Considering the British Army's crack regiments use them as a notoriously tough training base, it would seem two tom hamstrings and one case of hypothermia were a bearable price to pay for Kidderminster Medical Society's weekend trip to the Welsh Mountains. Yes, blame it on the Brecon Beacons.

Oddly enough, the casualties had nothing to do with mountaineering. There may have been a few aching limbs to follow, but the Society's main mission to scale Pen Y Fan was accomplished without a hitch, a muscle strain or a grumble from little ones and veterans alike. The leg injuries were sustained at ground level as a result of nothing more dangerous or daunting than a game of rounders! Stand by for more of that tale, plus how young Andrew O'Hara was reduced to a shivering wreck on the river Wye.

For some of the medics and their families, a memorable weekend of climbing, cricket, rounders and canoeing began at Brinnich camp site on the Friday evening. What a pleasure it was to be welcomed by the balm of a cold beer from Gordon in the barmy August twilight. Tents were erected before darkness fell, and a good night’s sleep was enjoyed in advance of the assault on Brecon's highest peak the next day.

More of the climbing party arrived on the Saturday morning, and what a veritable procession they made up the mountain in perfect weather. The ascent and descent were achieved in a leisurely four hours, giving ample time to take in the spectacular scenery and tuck into a hearty picnic on the mountain top.

That evening, the intrepid climbers were ready to replenish the lost calories by tackling a sumptuous barbecue in the camp site; the appetiser being a game of rounders in the adjoining field. All was well and on course for a winning result, until Gordon Cox tore his hamstring; doubly painful when he was in sight of a home run that would have secured victory for his team. Ike George identically pulled his hamstring in a dash to first base, and it was a credit to both limping diehards that they stayed the course to see the two sides contrive an honourable 9-9 draw.

Sunday morning dawned with Jan and Gordon treating their fellow - campers with egg–and-bacon butties, and after a light lunchtime picnic the Brecon bravados were all set for their six mile canoeing sojourn down the tranquil, unspoilt waters of the Wye. Again, all was well, until Andrew O'Hara's boat capsized him into the icy river, not once but three times in rapid succession! Help was readily at hand in the shape of several spare fleeces and towels, and being Andrew, the embattled boy, smilingly endured his ordeal.

Picking a highlight of the weekend would be as daunting as scaling every Brecon peak in one morning, but the canoeing must be a strong contender. Who needs the Dordogne in southern France when you can dreamily negotiate the Wye, just 60 miles south-west of Kidderminster in dear old Worcestershire?

Many thanks to Jan, Gordon, Dave and Liz for the excellence of their logistical planning and general organisation. And also to Tom and Oliver Cox for entertaining the young children so well.

As society weekends go, this was about as good as it gets.

Mike Ward

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Medical society BBQ

  12.45pm -The car-park attendants were just starting to be concerned at the dearth of  guests for the medical society summer barbeque, when the first cars rolled into ‘The Summer House’ drive. It was a glorious hot day and so the first priority for younger visitors was to change and have a swim. Jan tried to tempt the grown-ups to jump in too with the offer of swimsuit loans but, with the exception of the Malcolmsons, who fitted in an early swim before anyone else arrived, the rest of us headed straight for the terrace where welcoming iced drinks of every type were pressed into our sweaty hands by Gordon.


Next priority was to ‘borrow’ sunscreen from those wise enough to have brought some i.e. Fiona Parsons, or even to retreat into the shade, relax and soak up the atmosphere. What bliss! Happy children splashing  in the pool, inebriated adults in the sun…. and a bouncy castle for those feeling energetic.


By 2.00 the kids were being fed and watered and were then ready for the next stage of entertainment - the magician. It was reported that he was given rather a hard time by some of the younger boys, who were keen to demonstrate their knowledge of how each and every trick was done….. but he coped admirably and ended his show with a fixed grimace on his face and obvious relief


While the magic man worked his trade the adults could dive into the delicious fare. Spicy chicken burgers, lamb chops and wonderful homemade sausages were amongst the offerings from the Bewdley butcher, accompanied by troughs of fresh salads. Any ideas of self-restraint vanished as my plate was piled high and later refilled. We sat at tables in the garden with magnificent views over Bewdley and again you guessed it, Gordon was there again, tempting us with ‘white, red or soft’


A tour of the garden showed us the prospective goose house/run and the fine vegetable patch, and by this stage the children were ready for yet another swim or more activity in the games room. The adults were now feeling even more relaxed, apart from the Millers, who were wondering how they would ever manage to cycle home to Sneads Green, let alone play tennis that evening


As the afternoon came, an end, heavy clouds built up in the sky and the odd rumble of thunder and drop of rain reminded us all that, perhaps it was time to be getting home again.


A really delightful event. Many thanks to Jan and Gordon, who are surely the most relaxed and welcoming hosts out, for staging a wonderful day.

Judith Hardwick

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