1.       Post Grad Centre Under Threat - Graeme Wilcox
2.       A Retiring Address - Graeme Wilcox
3.        Blue Water Rally - Jan Adams
4.       Obituary, Phillip Hughes - Rod Summers
5.       35 Years - Graeme Wilcox

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Post Grad Centre Under Threat

Since the Hospital was taken over by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust there has been increasing concern regarding our Postgraduate Centre.

Sadly, although the centre was built by the society, using money given and raised by members of the Society, it was built on the hospital site and is therefore on crown land. It would appear that the new trust can do what they like with it - indeed the chairman has already intimated that it should be knocked down once the new postgraduate centre at Worcester is completed in about 1 years time. Furthermore the site of our centre appears vacant on future plans of the hospital.

Do we fight? Do we wish to keep the centre? Indeed, do we wish to have a meeting point for the local doctors? Should the centre evolve to embrace nurses and, other medical disciplines, together with dental and veterinary practitioners who are already members of the society?

The Editor feels strongly that the society is in need of such a place where we can 'gather together and converse'. What do you think?

This matter is already under. discussion by a sub group of the society but it is important that we all discuss the issues before the AGM - one of the most important society meetings for many years. Possible options discussed at a recent executive meeting included fighting demolition and continue running the building ourselves: try to buy the site from the trust- find extra sources of income and refurbish the building; rent or purchase a building off site (the trustees have substantial funds ); or do nothing!!!

We need to know what people think. The Medical Society President  is circulating a short questionnaire with this edition to find out your views before the AGM in October.


  Having recently retired from active general practice, and furthermore being no longer involved in local medical affairs, it seems to me to be an appropriate time to hand over the editorship of the Medical Society Newsletter to someone younger, fitter and in contact with all that is going on. It is therefore my delight to introduce Hilary Boyle as my successor.

The Newsletter was started by Barrie and myself at the time of the Society's centenary in 1993, and has continued by popular demand ever since. The initial idea - with the centenary in mind - was to remind members of the past by including excerpts from the minutes books, together with looking at current Society activities and also brief comments on current local medical news. Once the centenary was over the editorial policy changed somewhat, to include articles about new members, obituaries, hobby corner and items of special interest - especially Janet Adams "round the world" trip.

Rightly or wrongly, I have on the whole tried to avoid being political, but I strongly suspect that - in view of the disastrous local situation now developing - there may well be a need for the newsletter to become more politically articulate in the near future.

Finally may I take this opportunity to thank the Society for its support with this innovative venture, and to wish the Society and its newsletter all success in the future.

Graeme Wilcox

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Blue Water Rally  - Crete 3" April 2000

Last letter from Jan Adams

  Since I last wrote we reluctantly left Thailand and set sail for Sri Lanka on 6th January. We took 6 days and 7 nights finally arriving at Galle in the early morning and being met by several boat loads of fishermen asking for cigarettes, T-shirts or anything on offer. We managed to arrange a 5 day tour of Sri Lanka which was going to take us fairly near Kurenegulia where Lucien Gunnaratna lives. We managed to contact him and arranged to stay the night with him during our tour. We had a wonderful evening with him and Anne, his wife, and Chintra talking about old times in Kidderminster and were made very welcome. Lucien took us by car to the Elephant Orphanage where we met -up with the other 4 in our group to continue the tour. It was a lot of driving in 5 days but we saw some wonderful places and have very clear memories of the hills and tea plantations and a memorable stay at the Hill Club which was like going back 100 years, having ones dress ironed for dinner, the men dining in jackets and ties, and the library and billiard room where strict silence was observed! Returning to the room after a very good dinner we were given a couple of hot water bottles to warm the bed! We must return here to be treated in this royal fashion and visit again the almost Victorian settlement in the beautiful hills of the tea plantations and also find time to climb the rock at Sigirya where a settlement was once a perch on a rock that is sheer on all sides.

We returned to Galle and spent almost another week there before setting off for the Maldives which took us 3 days. We arrived in Male in torrential rain which took nearly all day to clear which was very frustrating but were finally allowed to move to one of the lagoons on a holiday island where we spent a few nights ashore enjoying the hotel facilities. We then moved to one of the islands where there are no holiday hotels just a local village and found the snorkelling here was extremely good. We managed to purchase fresh fish from the village and nearly lost it when it 'recovered' from the blow on the head it had received from the locals and nearly jumped out of the dinghy - we had to kill it in our normal humane way of pouring gin into its gills. It made a very good meal.

After about 10 days of lazing we again set off for a further trek west to Djibouti . It took us 15 days to reach there as we were warned not to go near the coasts of Socotra or Yemen because of pirates. We had no problems although the French navy were on the look out for us and there were several tales of lone boats being boarded, robbed and even shot at. Dijibouti was a real culture shock after the Far East . The beggars were many and pathetic; the rich extreme with a great variety of very expensive food available at a French supermarket. Some of our boats were robbed although again we escaped but I only just escaped having my backpack opened whilst it was on my back. We felt quite threatened although in the markets the traders were honest and gave 'cadeaux' for every purchase we made of fresh fruit and vegetables - always a little extra was put in the bag.

We were very glad to leave Djibouti in glorious sunshine and flat seas. Little did we know what lay in store. By the 3rd day the wind was on the nose and the seas were getting up. By the 5th day the winds were strong and right on the nose - we were getting constantly wet on deck from spray and anywhere below was uncomfortable because of the movement but we were making some progress by motor sailing and doing better than most of the others.

We decided to put into Sawarkin in Sudan . What an experience. A very sheltered anchorage with a sand bank almost completely enclosing it except there were soldiers with machine guns all along the sand bank - the guns pointing at us and the soldiers waving at us like long lost friends. We were met by a delightful young man called Mohammed who acted as agent to stamp our passports and clear us into the Sudan and then took us to the town’s 'museum' which consisted of very little except a few pictures of Lord Kitchener and the whirling Dervishes. Kitchener , after Gordon's death, established Sawarkin as a major port until 1941 when it could no longer take big ships and the port was moved to Port Sudan . Sawarkin looked as though it had been heavily bombed but in fact most of the buildings had had blocks of stone taken from them for the people to build new houses in Port Sudan . The old town had been completely abandoned and the 'new', although outside the old, town really didn't look much better. Mohammed took us to the best restaurant in town which was a dirt floored tin shack with thousands of flies. We all politely ate the food on offer thinking we would all be ill the next day but in fact nobody was. Mohammed took us to Port Sudan for the day on a local bus which had no springs, no glass and full to overflowing, but our 30 mile journey cost just 60 cents ( US ) each. We bought fresh provisions in the markets - the chickens being killed whilst we waited and had a good day out.

We spent 3 days in Sawarkin and enjoyed the place immensely but finally decided we had to set off although the winds were no better. Again wind on the nose, with high seas; we were making long tacks and covering very little ground even motor sailing. Still very wet and after 4 days our autohelm packed up and we had to hand steer getting extremely wet with nowhere to dry our clothes. I wrote 'perhaps the nearest to hell we have experienced - cannot sit or lie, eat or sleep because of the pitching and heeling of the boat. Going to the loo is almost impossible because of being flung off the scat at regular intervals. Winds 20-40 knots on the nose. Washing impossible as the water slops out of the basin before you can use it. No fresh food left - corned beef awful everything wet, bed, towels, clothes but the sun is shining and we are a little nearer Eilat than we were yesterday!' It took another 7 days before we arrived in Eilat but we did have two short spells with little wind and flat sea so that we could put more diesel in the tanks.

We arrived in Eilat to a wonderful welcome. David Lewis, owner of the King Solomon hotel, greeted us with a basket of fresh fruit and a beautiful thick white towel which was embroidered with the Blue Water Rally logo. To arrive to this having run out of fresh food days earlier and with no dry towels was a wonderful experience so with a good hot shower in the King Solomon hotel with our new towels and a hose down of everything salty on the decks our previous weeks experiences were soon forgotten. David also, a few nights later, entertained us to a wonderful reception and meal. We spent nearly 3 weeks in Eilat and travelled to Cairo , Petra , Jerash and Ammanin that time. We also had our two daughters and families out for a week which was the first time we had seen them since September 1998.

We left Eilat on 5th April and roared down the Gulf of Aquaba and through the Straits of Tirain where we had battled for hours to get through going the other way. We turned into the Gulf of Suez to flat seas and no wind. About 2200 hours it started blowing and with an engine of 140hp we made no progress right through the night and probably went backwards for about half a mile. We had a major shipping lane on one side and an oil well on the other and tremendous seas. We eventually made the north east coast by 1100 the next morning and turned back to El Tor for shelter. We finally made it by 1500 and spent 36 hours sheltering from the wind. When it did die we motored hot foot for Port Suez getting there in about 20 hours. It was a pretty dreadful place everyone wanting back handers and cigarettes for everything they did including the pilots and the harbour masters. We spent an extra day waiting to go again because of high winds but after 2 days in the Suez Canal finally emerged into the Mediterranean and Europe . We motor sailed to Crete as another storm was expected and just made it in time before the next lot of bad weather. We have spent almost 2 weeks here enjoying the island and the Easter celebrations which are a week later than in UK . Last night we watched the burning of Judas on the lagoon with lots of fireworks and all the crowds holding lighted candles - quite a sight.

We now hope we can day sail and run for shelter fairly easily if the weather deteriorates. Although we have experienced some fairly bad weather in the Med. In the past it doesn't last long and I wonder if it could ever be as bad as our experiences in the Red Sea .

Jeanette Adams


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  Philip Hughes, G.P. in Cookley from 1972 to 1994, died recently, aged 73, in London , of throat cancer.

  Born in 1926, Philip came from a Kidderminster family, attending King Charles Grammar School before moving with the family to Stoke-on-Trent . On leaving school he worked for a while with the Inland Revenue, and during the war - being a conscientious objector - he worked in the mines. Soon after he decided to join the Methodist Ministry, his first appointment being in Porlock, Somerset. Here he met his first wife Julia, by whom he had two children, Peter and Sarah. Later after returning to the Midlands, Philip decided to study Medicine, which he did at Birmingham qualifying M.B., Ch.B. in 1962.

His house jobs were in Kidderminster at Mill Street Hospital , and he eventually joined Dr. Brian Lamb in general practice in Wolverley and Cookley; Dr Jan Adams later succeeded Brian Lamb and in due course the partners separated into two practices, with Philip being the Cookley doctor, where he met his second wife, Joan.

He was very popular with his patients, and a man of great energy. His many outside interests included sailing -most weekends he travelled to Porlock to his boat - and Choral singing.

Philip leaves Joan, his children Sarah (a doctor ) and Peter (Environmentalist) and four grandchildren. He will be remembered as a friendly and reserved man with great enthusiasm for his work and devoted to his family.




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35 years

  Having been in this area for most of my professional life, it is interesting to reflect on the changes over that period of time. I have seen a period of growth for many years, and now a complete reversal of that trend to the degree that I dread a return to the "dark ages" of "no beds" anywhere and therefore G.P's being expected to manage many serious conditions at home.

  When I first came as a houseman at Mill Street there were only 3 or 4 residents, on call was horrendous; all the consultants were part time; and out of hours support was minimal. There were 30 medical beds, 20 paediatric and about the same number of surgical and orthopaedic and trauma. Maternity was almost entirely G.P. led at home and the Croft and only about 10% went to hospital in Bromsgrove - which was then our local consultant unit under the care of Mr Kenny. Geriatrics was at Blakebrook - being the old workhouse and even there, bed blockage was the norm. As today the most attractive feature medically was the local camaraderie together with a much higher standard of General Practice than most parts of the country even though at the time there were many smaller practices.

  Because of this there was a concerted effort by all of us to improve facilities and standards. The society set up regular postgraduate sessions and in due course built its own post graduate centre.

  With the goodwill of the then Region, together with the very hard work of many members - especially the late Robert Gibbins - plus the poor state of the buildings, a programme of new building was started in the early 70s. on the old workhouse site at Blakebrook and eventually we had our present facility by the mid nineties. The late eighties and early nineties were probably the best times ever here - working together as a hospital and community team for the common good, and only vaguely aware of the future national plans.

  Having spent much of my career as a small part of the team that has built up our excellent local facility, I am horrified to see it destroyed by the stroke of a bureaucrat pen at Worcester . There is no doubt that in a few months time we shall be in a worse situation than existed when I arrived here with NO acute beds; NO casualty; NO maternity facility and a rapid loss of consultant contact as they all move away.

  I hope and pray that there is a last minute change of heart for the sake not only of Wyre Forest but also the whole of the county.


Graeme Wilcox

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