1.       Graeme Wilcox - Obituary
2.       GP Beds
3.       The Gulf War - Mike Ward
4.       Wine Tasting - Paul Williams
5.       Medical Society Ball
6.       A Report from Central America - Simon Gates
7.       On the Banks of the Nile - Barrie Davies

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Graeme Wilcox

"He would have loved it” seemed the general opinion after Graeme's funeral service on 19th April - held at his 'home" church of St John  the Baptist. The coffin, centre aisle, was a visual reminder of how big a man he was, and never afraid of taking up an unpopular position! The packed congregation was treated to a rich, traditional service with an inspiring lesson read by his son. Surrounded by friends from medical, civic and musical aspects of his life, it was a reminder of the importance he attached to his family. He would have loved it.

Hilary Boyle

Graeme and I have been the co-editors of this newsletter since its inception as a stroke of Graeme’s genius back in 1994. Since that time, it has been an absolute  pleasure to work with him, and I never failed to be amazed and impressed by his extensive knowledge of past and present local medical affairs. His expertise and enthusiasm will be sadly missed  by all of us and the newsletter has lost a very good friend.

Barrie Davies

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The Wyre Forest community Unit opened its doors on 14th May 2001 to provide 20 GP beds for local patients. The unit makes use of space on the ground floor of A Block at Kidderminster Hospital which was previously the acute medical ward for men. Many of the nurses who moved to Worcester when the acute beds transferred have now returmed to provide the core staff for the unit. This is labelled as an intermediate care facility, but the philosophy of the unit is based very much on primary and community care. Janet Laskey who led the MARS team so successfully is in overall charge and will take responsibility for co-ordinating the two arms of the service, the GP beds and the domiciliary care.

It is at least 25 years since GP beds were first talked about as an option for Wyre Forest . Many changes occurred in health care provision during the last quarter of the 20th century, notably the development of district general hospitals, with a first class example in Kidderminster . Highly committed medical and surgical staff provided a service of which they could be justly proud, and which patients and GPs could be grateful. The recent configuration of services which is promised to modernise the provision of care may yet do so, but clearly it cannot meet the demand for acute care at present. It was the realisation that an intermediate level of care would be necessary to maintain services that reawakened interest in GP beds.

Various initiatives have been developed in the last few years to try to ease the pressure on acute medical beds. Some have depended on innovative schemes and extra work in the secondary sector. Other such as the MARS have made their impact in primary care. Extending MARS to GP beds will work successfully only if there is a skilled assessment of patients and a strong focus on active treatment and rehabilitation. It will require careful co-ordination of nursing and therapy services, of medical and social services and a strong commitment from all parties. But with that determination to bring plans to action the unit will provide a much needed local service and a more appropriate care environment for the people of the Wyre Forest .

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In a spellbinding address to society members at the Church Street practice on June 13, the former RAF Tornado pilot John Peters spoke movingly of how he was shot down, captured and brutally tortured during the Gulf War a decade ago. Flight Lt. Peters and his navigator John Nicholls were hit by a laser-guided missile during a low-level mission to bomb an airfield in Iraq - their first sortie of the war that followed Saddam Hussein's order to invade Kuwait .

  John Peters, who suffered two compressed vertebrae on impact with the ground, described how their aircraft caught fire and they were forced to eject just before the aircraft exploded in a blinding flash. The pair found themselves alone and horribly vulnerable in the vast emptiness of the Iraqi desert, and it was not long before enemy soldiers located their prey and held them prisoner.

The British pilots were repeatedly beaten wth fists and rifle-butts on their journey to the Iraqi captal, Baghdad , where they were held in a cramped cell with bags placed over their heads. They were routinely tortured during captivity, both physically and mentally. For all their brutality, the Iraqi tormentors extracted nothing more than their names, rank and serial numbers. The images of the battered figuresparaded before the television cameras shocked the world.

John Peters, whose compelling presentation included a video-clip of Tornado jets in action, told of his determination not to let the Iraqis get the better of him. They could beat him and stage their mock executions, he said, but they would never break his spirit. John, who only left the RAF a year ago, also revealed how thoughts of his wife Helen and small children Guy and Toni back at their former base in Germany strengthened his will to survive.

Remarkably, John returned to flying duties with Tornados just six weeks after his ordeal ended. The spinal injuries are a permanent legacy of the war, but mentally he is unscarred. The family have since moved to the Worcestershire village of Mamble , and John has set up a consultancy business specialising in leadership and management.

His deeply humbling address to the society will not be forgotten.


Mike Ward.

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MARCH 2001


I signed up for the event expecting a "traditional" tutored wine tasting followed by refreshments but was not disappointed with what turned out to be a "wine and food matching evening". The venue was the Horse and Jockey at Far Forest on 9th March and approximately 50 people turned out including of course the president Geoff Summers.

The evening began with a Chilean sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif before we took our places around tables seating 8 to 10. Tim from Inspired Wines, Cleobury Mortimer chose and introduced each wine to us. These accompanied each of the seven courses although we were encouraged to select our own choice for the final cheese course. A Torrontes from Argentina was chosen to partner the salmon, prawn and basil fishcakes. Next came chicken and apricot roulade with a Soave. This was closely followed by a Valpolicella to accompany medallions of monkfish

The meat course consisted of pan-fried duck breast partnered by a New Zealand Pinot Noir (my favourite). There were two dessert courses, marbled chocolate mousse and a hot waffle which were matched respectively with Portuguese Moscatel and (rather surprisingly) a sherry. I should explain to those readers not present that every course came as a single large helping placed in the centre of the each table. We then helped ourselves to our portion. However, there were an odd number of guests at our table and a fight was narrowly avoided when the chocolate mousse arrived!

  The arrival of the cheese course allowed us to visit again those wines we had especially enjoyed. Many people mingled and chatted at this point before making their way home; full, happy and contented. A very good evening indeed!


Paul Williams


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Friday September 28th 2001


This is hopefully the first event of a summer season devastated by the foot and mouth crisis. The Annual Dinner will follow a different format this year. Still a "black tie" occasion at Spring Grove House, there will be no after dinner speaker. Instead, last year's highly popular band will return - in an enlarged group - to provide more of their music for dancing (or just listening!).

Smaller tables spread through the two main rooms will facilitate this, as well as general mingling and socializing. Invitations will be posted late August so book your table as soon as possible. And just to whet your appetites, have a look at the format and menu for the 1953 event !!


At The Elms Hotel, Abberley Friday, May 22nd, 1953.


Doctors are always working to preserve our health and Cooks to destroy it, but the latter are the more often successful   -  Diderot.



Of his diete mesurable was be, For it was of no superfluitee but of great norissynge and digestible.
The Physician, Chaucer




I am not hungry, but thank goodness I am greedy.

Punch 1878.




Heaven is largely a matter of Digestion.
Elbert Hubbard 1859-1915.

Toast List.

I will eat exceedingly and Prophesy.
Ben. Johnson 1572-1637.  

The President

The President

In Reply
Dame Hilda Lloyd

“For thousands of years, medicine has united the aims and aspirations of the best and noblest of mankind."
Karl Marx 1856.

Baron T. Rose, Esq.

In Reply
Dr John M. Malins  

When Eve, upon the first of men, The apple pressed with specious Cant,
Oh!  what a thousand pities then that Adam was not Adamant."

Thomas Hood 1799-1845.

Dr. J. R. Craig  

In Reply
Mrs. G. K. Beatty


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A Report from Central America

As I am about to start work as a partner in Bewdley and have just come back from an 8 week trip, Hilary has told me I have to write a short witty and interesting piece about myself and my travels. I suspect this will fill only one of those criteria.

When I found out that Bewdley wanted me to be a partner I thought to myself, Central America it is then. Unfortunately they found me and so now I have to start work again. Hilary thought you would all like to know about my trip, although I'm sure there must be more interesting articles in this weeks BMJ. Anyway I went with my wife Emma for 2 months of fun in Central America, visiting Costa Rica , Belize and Mexico .

When people find out you are a doctor the first thing they do is look guiltily at their cigarettes and booze. The next thing is to ask you to look at their sore elbow. It is for this reason that I traveled as a normal human and tried to keep my unfortunate career choice to myself. This worked for the most part and in 8 weeks I only ended looking at one ear, 2 legs and an unfortunate baby covered in bites from the nasty local insects. The legs had 2 nasty looking blisters on from the bite of the blue fly or some other nasty and they belonged to Emma.  It was then that I wished I had paid more attention in my one tropical disease lecture but, after a week of nervously watching clear fluid drain from them, they seemed to clear up.

The holiday was wonderful and it was so nice to spend all that time together. The Highlights for me were the jungle in Costa Rica , snorkelling on the barrier reef in Belize and visiting all the ruins in Mexico .

By the time we came back we were looking forward to seeing all our friends and family again. I was even quite looking forward to coming back to work- and doing something useful with my life. (how misguided does that seem 2 weeks back into it)

Simon Gates

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On the Banks of the
River Nile

For those of you who have travelled by air, it will come as no surprise when I tell you that the best description of an airport is organised chaos. Airports in the United Kingdom can be bad enough, but when you are trying to get a wheelchair bound patient, his wife and all his luggage through some foreign airports without any assistance from airport ground handling staff - it can best  be better described as a disorganised disaster!

I travelled to Cairo to bring back an Egyptian national who was married to an English lady and who lived and worked in Watford . Like so many of the others I bring back, he had suffered a heart attack, had stayed the compulsory 10 days and was now fit to be repatriated with me as the medical escort. Collecting him, his wife and, surprise surprise, two children (more about them later) from his brother's home was not a problem and the trip to the airport went by without any hitches. But that is where the problems started but, before I tell you about them, let me tell you a little about a day in Egypt ......

A 24-hour stay in Cairo can be as much or as little as you want to make of it. I was up bright and early and caught a hotel tour bus to the Pyramids and was very glad I went early because by the time I left at midday, the temperature was in the upper 30s Centigrade. It was at the Pyramids that I first encountered that incredible and frequently offensive Arab habit of openly asking for, even demanding, baksheesh - a tip for services rendered, and sometimes if I got my way, not rendered!

However, after a camel ride it was back on the bus to the Cairo museum to view the incredible Tutenkhamen treasures and once again I was met with the open hands of the tour guides asking for their baksheesh.

My last port of call for the day was to the city of the dead in the centre of Cairo . This is in fact a vast cemetery, but like no other cemetery you have ever seen before. It is built just like a small town with houses, streets, and shops and where each house is in fact a tomb. I suppose the thinking is correct, to provide departed loved ones with all the facilities they were used to in everyday life and where relations can visit at will - I think I’d rather stick to the ashes to ashes formula!

Overall, Cairo is an incredible place to visit with sights and sounds for all tastes, just as long as one is prepared to accept the incredible poverty, the swarms of very big flies and thick layers of dust everywhere - and to remember to mistrust the ice cubes and stick to sealed bottled water whatever you do!

Back to the airport, where as soon as the ambulance driver had grumbled about the level of baksheesh I had offered him, we were dumped on the pavement and had to unload our own luggage. Fortunately, the patient's brother had travelled behind us in his car to bid his farewells to the family and while I went to organise a wheelchair and the tickets, he piled the copious luggage onto a trolley. 

This is where the, surprise, surprise, two children came into the picture. At all stages of the case handling, no mention had ever been made of two children accompanying the patient and his wife. Certainly when I collected the business class tickets I was given two, not four tickets and no matter how much I tried, no-one seemed interested in my problem. There was no doubt that they were the genuine offspring of my patient, a passport check and calls back to the UK confirmed it, but my problem was that there were no tickets!

Aeromedical repatriation is a game where instant decisions need to be made, and the facilities must be available to back up those decisions - which is where my American Express Gold Card came in handy. Yes I always get the money back in expenses but even so it is a little nerve racking to sign that bill for £1,400 for two one way business class seats.

Back to the departure lounge where after a lot of puffing and panting the patient's brother and I got the wheelchair and luggage to the check in desk. The brother said his farewells at this point and then, guess what - yes, he held his hand out expecting some baksheesh! His comment, when I asked him why he wanted payment to assist his brother ,was that the insurance company was paying so why shouldn’t he get his due rewards out of it!

At this point, and out of nowhere, a long lost porter appeared from nowhere. We had already carried and booked the luggage in at the check in desk and so why he decided to offer his services at this stage I fail to see. Needless to say I declined an further assistance before he could ask for his unearned baksheesh.

Things went fairly smoothly from that point on. Once on board the British Airways flight it was almost as if a veil of assistance and courtesy descended from the cabin crew - and thank goodness, not one of them held out a hand for - yes, you know what.

And for those of you who are tempted to visit Egypt , a small tip – keep a handful of one dollar US bills. At 66p each they do make reasonable tips – sorry, Baksheesh !!

Barrie Davies

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