1.        Medical Society Annual Dinner October 2005 - Chris Wilkinson
Rachel Ward in the London Marathon 2006 - Mike Ward
The Mystery of the Missing President - Hilary Boyle
4.        An Antiques Evening - Tim Wadsworth
5.        Just the Perfect Day - Mike Ward

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Medical Society Dinner - October 2005

It was a cold and blustery early winters evening and I was struggling with the last few patients of what was proving to be a difficult Friday evening surgery.  They just did not seem to realise that I had a special event to attend that evening.  After reassuring the final patient that his perceived life-threatening illness was in fact a bad cold (commonly known as man-flu), I dashed off home to get ready for the Kidderminster Medical Society Dinner.

Our three children were at a party and it is amazing how quickly mum and dad can get ready for an evening out when they are not troubled by constant requests to find various items of clothing or breaking up fights.  The Kidderminster Medical Society is one of the few occasions in the year that I wear my dinner suit, and I was a little surprised that it had not shrunk as much as it had done in previous years!

Again, because of our new-found freedom, we were able to get to Spring Grove House in plenty of time, although we were far from being the first there.  We were warmly greeted by our president, Chris Gait, and his wife who were standing in the traditional position by the beautiful brightly burning log fire.  I then began the usual circuitous route towards the bar, dodging coffee-tables and squeezing past men in smart and crisp black suits and ladies adorned in all varieties of glorious evening wear, and eventually found myself standing at the bar in the prime position knowing that the single barman who was valiantly trying to serve us all was about to meet my gaze at any second.  This was when I made my mistake.

I was tapped on the shoulder, and instead of doing what I should have done and maintained my bar presence I turned and saw Hilary standing beside me looking beautiful in red and with a rather mischievous look on her face.  I believe Hilary knows very well when men are at their weakest, and it was at this carefully chosen moment that she asked if I would prepare this report about the Kidderminster Medical Society Annual Dinner.  She told me that Northumberland House had not yet contributed to the newsletter and it would be very nice if I could write a report about the evening’s activities. 

I couldn’t resist her, and readily agreed so that I could turn back to the bar only to find that I was now approximately three rows back and being studiously ignored by the barman. It was not until I spoke to Paul Thompson later in the evening that he pointed out that I had been hoodwinked, and he in fact had written the report for last year’s event!

It was great to see the bar area filled with so many well known and happy faces and, while they have always had a reputation for being community spirited, it was particularly good of Church Street Surgery to allow all the other local practices to use their bar tab.

After one or two pre dinner drinks we were invited to move into the main dining room and were treated to some beautiful piano and cello music which was played during our meal.  The meal was one of the best KMS dinners that I could remember (or it may just be that I can remember this dinner better than the others because I was trying to remain relatively sober so that I could remember any gossip to use in this report) with a delicious melon starter, succulent lamb main course and a wonderful lemon tart dessert.

The after dinner speech was mercifully proportional, witty and erudite and enjoyed by all.  I circulated around the tables asking for titbits of gossip and tittle-tattle but sadly I do not have anything juicy to report other than a few things that David Malcolmson told me which are, unfortunately, not printable (I will expect that tenner next time I see you). 

All in all it was a most enjoyable evening, a chance for people to get together and let whatever hair they still have down and I am very much looking forward to next year although I will perhaps be a little more wary of the lady in red. It only remains for me to say how lucky I was to be sitting between such beautiful ladies, Sally Rumley and my wife Wendy who, as ever, were both looking exquisite.  Confucius say: Always be aware on which side your bread is buttered.

Chris Wilkinson

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Rachel Ward - LONDON MARATHON 2006

You have to be slightly bonkers to tackle 8 London Marathon , and sure enough Rachel will next year be joining the barmy army of charity foot sordiers who pound the Thames-side streets of Britain ’s capital city for good causes.

Rachel has opted to run under the Multiple Sclerosis banner for two reasons; firstly, a close friend of ours Is a sufferer and secondly, the Multiple Sclerosis Trust offers an excellent service to those who run for the cause.

Well honed by her numerous appearances In triathlons, half marathons and Muddy slogs Rachel aims to complete the Marathon In under four hours and to raise as much money for MS as she can.

Since the April 23, 2006 event Is a one-off challenge for her, Rachel Is appealing to her friends to offer financial as. well as moral support.  A cheque or cash will do nicely, or you can donate on-line and get gift aid.

Please log on to   www.justgiving.com/rachelmikeward and follow the simple Instructions.  Please donate as generously as you can to the cause. Thank you so much.

Mike Ward

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The Mystery of the Missing President

One of the most exciting AGMs for years took place on a freezing November night in the beautifully warm & comfortable surroundings of the Education Centre. Chris Gait – retiring president & incumbent treasurer – and Steph were nowhere to be found!             

Desperate measures were taken by mobile phone to trace the missing couple whilst waiting members were forced to pass the time imbibing quantities of Medical Society wine. Despite the cold weather, attendance was better than for some time, but fewer than Paul Williams had catered for. Thus, reactions were a little sluggish when conviviality was disrupted by an enormously loud explosion.

Sherlock Horton braved the far side of the room to inspect the damage and declare Clive Prince the culprit – shreds of his bicycle tyre providing the evidence. This was the signal to abandon hope in the Gaits (and Paul Newrick) and begin the evening’s business. Soothed by the drinks, Wendy remained calm and composed as she hustled a bemused Paul Glossop – minus the gavel which no-one was sober enough to find - into the vacant chair.

Gnawing hunger pangs and absent officers meant proceedings were then fairly swift. Most debate was around setting up our own website – linking in to all sorts of other awfully useful stuff that everyone else understands.  As Barrie wasn’t there either, we thanked him for the pilot year piggybacked on to his site, and were able to propose that he do all the work for us to declare UDI. Hilary was relieved that paper copies of the newsletter will continue for one more final last year.

Aware of flagging concentration, Wendy quickly slipped in her notice to retire from post next year and let us loose on a really delicious supper. Plates piled high with the missing members portions, speculation resumed as to their whereabouts. Any one able to recall events the next day might have been reassured to know that Chris had just got the date wrong, and was instead with John Murray & Martin Lewis at the Choral Society. Having been such a super President, he must be excused for falling at the last hurdle! 

Hilary Boyle

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An Antiques Evening

Philip Sorrel, television antique expert, came to talk to the Society on October 7. There was some doubt as to whether he’d actually get to Kidderminster but he managed it in spite of filming that day, and the traffic. 

The evening started with a buffet supper most of which Philip had to miss but afterwards he gave an off-the-cuff, very entertaining talk to more than fifty of us, full of those anecdotes about discovered treasures which we love to hear. 

Two stories stand out. The first about a farmer in financial difficulties hoping that a table was worth a few thousand, only to be told that, sorry, no, it wasn’t - but did he have anything else? Only a load of old junk in an outhouse; but in amongst this a console table was discovered, found subsequently to be one of a pair, the other being in some royal household, worth over £100,000. Farmer back in business. The second was about a dealer friend who, at an auction where a particular job lot was expected to go for a few hundred pounds, noticed that it contained a very rare 11th century Syrian chess piece which he thought was worth something into six figures. After anxious moments at the bidding he got the lot for £400. Subsequently he sold the piece for rather more than the £100,000 he thought it was worth. A case of seller beware rather than buyer. 

Things may not be what they seem, particularly over the phone, and, as in General Practice, it sometimes pays to go and have a look. A lady rang to ask about her ordinary plain plates which turned out to be, when he reluctantly went to see them, solid silver. 

Afterwards Philip looked at some of the objects we had brought with us and gave us his opinion about them. Alas, no Antiques Roadshow moments but although no one came away with an unexpected fortune, everyone enjoyed the evening.

                                                                                                        Tim Wadsworth

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Just the perfect day

The invitation from Society president Chris Gait sounded too good to turn down. Would fellow members care to join him for a canal-side Sunday lunch in the vibrant “Little Venice” enclave of Birmingham ?

There had to be a catch, of course. To take up Chris’s offer, we had to cycle 34 miles along the winding, dog-leg towpaths to our destination, starting out from Kidderminster and ending our journey in the rejuvenated heart of Britain ’s second city.  

Give us a catch like that any day.  On a brilliantly sunny mid-summer morning, a total of 18 members (including a posse of children aged between nine and 16) set off from the Church Street practice, wondering how our procession would   negotiate disgruntled anglers, pedestrians, oncoming cyclists and general traffic jams along the way.

No problem.  Apart from one broken chain, which the repair consultants in our team swiftly mended, the challenge was fulfilled without a hitch; and surprisingly given the numbers, not a single puncture.  By the time we had picked up the Emms family at Wolverley plus Alison Parry and her two boys at Dudley, our party had swelled to 25.

Our marathon ride, including plenty of pauses and a drinks stop on the canal-side at Merry Hill, lasted six and a half hours. Most preferred to return by car or train, but all credit to some for choosing to cycle all the way back again.

Lou Reed’s song Perfect Day was written for occasions like this.  What a treat it was to see the changing landscape of Worcestershire and the West Midlands unfolding so breathtakingly before us; from the shadows of thick woodland in Kinver, to the bright sunshine of open meadows around Stourton and, in stark contrast, to the industrial sprawl of the Black Country.

 All along the towpath we encountered politeness, cheerfulness and mutual respect.  Whether cycling, walking, fishing or chugging along in their canal boats, people were out to enjoy the day. Far from resenting the mass intrusion, one group of anglers even raised their rods to provide a guard of honour for us as we invaded their patch near Cookley.Ducks paddled happily with their chicks, horses grazed peacefully in the fields just beyond Stewponey, scrap metal firms banged away noisily in Brierley Hill and high-speed trains rattled by on the Birmingham to Wolverhampton line alongside us.

It was a journey of vivid and fascinating fluctuations. And who could forget the experience of ploughing ankle-deep in water through the two-mile stretch of the notorious Netherton Tunnel.  The echoing pitch-blackness appealed especially to the youngsters in our group

“I could do this again any day,” beamed Tom Cox when the distant light at the end of the tunnel finally loomed large into view.  On emerging from the darkness, we hit the home straight through Smethwick , past the National Indoor Arena and on to our chosen Waterfront restaurant for a belated lunch at 4.10pm ! This was bustling Birmingham at its best, vying with the finest cities in Europe for the star quality of its surroundings. And yes, we could all do it again any day.

Well done 10-year-old Grace Catchpole, who had never previously cycled further than three miles in her life. She rose to this 34-mile challenge unflinchingly and without fuss.

Praise be to our president Chris, for the sheer perfection of his logistical and navigational planning; providing us with snacks, encouragement and a pair of lanterns to light a path through the Netherton Tunnel.

And grateful thanks to Steph Gait, not only for bringing a horse box to transport 14 bikes back to Kidderminster but also for rescuing the dozen of us who discovered that the trains weren’t running because of engineering works.

That would have meant a long, sweltering journey by bus and inevitable lateness for those who had crucial engagements back home.  Mercifully, salvation was on hand.

“Just pile into the landrover,” said our saviour Steph, somewhat implausibly.  Not that she had any trouble pulling off this little miracle.  For the five loaves and two fishes, read 14 bodies and 13 bikes trundling merrily up Broad Street and along the A456 to Kiddy.

Mike Ward


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