1.         New Member - Angus Thomson
2.        Obituary - Neil Jarvie - Bob Ingles
3.        New Member - Mark Roberts
4.        An Antiques Evening - Tim Wasdworth
5.        Just a Perfect Day - Mike Ward

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New Member  -  Angus Thomson

I was born and bred in Yorkshire before studying Medicine in Liverpool. Worked hard and played hard for 5 years and met Lucy – recently appointed GP retainer in Droitwich – and we now have three boys: Ben (7), Joe (5) and Sam (3). Grey hair and haggard looks are due to fatherhood rather than work (Lucy may disagree).

Progressed straight from House jobs to Obs and Gynae training in Mersey region as SHO, Research fellow, Registrar and Senior Registrar – it’s very difficult to escape. Having developed and interest in Urogynaecology and Minimal Access Surgery I wished to obtain further training in these areas so gained a 2 year fellowship in Sydney prior to applying for Consultant posts. Had a wonderful time in Australia – but it’s not a patch on Worcestershire. Enjoying life working at both the Treatment Centre and Worcestershire Royal. Happy to deal with all aspects of benign gynaecology including Urogynaecology, abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain. Still managing to maintain an interest in research and education. Thank you for making us feel so welcome!


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 Obituary - Neil Jarvie

Neil, a real friend for more than three decades.   I felt privileged to be asked to say a few words today about a man of so many parts.

Not many people knew but Neil was born a Brummie in Colmore, moving later to Redditch where he was to spend most of his early years.   His father was a successful GP in the town and his mother a nursery nurse. He attended Bromsgrove school, something I think he kept quite quiet about since he knew that I as a grammar school boy thought only posh kids went to Bromsgrove.  It was here though that he developed his passion for sports in all its forms but particularly hockey which was to remain for the rest of his life. He stayed at Bromsgrove until GCE and then attended VI Form College for A levels, successfully achieving the grades to enter the Medical School at Birmingham in 1971.

It was here that Neil and I first met some 34 years ago.   Although hard to believe I too used to play hockey and both Neil and I played for the Medical School and Edgbaston.   We played many games together and I should like to say that I was a better player than him but I wasn’t.   Neil would regularly chide me for my lack of fitness.   I should have liked to have blamed the beer but even in this department Neil could leave me standing so to speak.   It was the student love of alcohol that led Neil and his flatmates to collect over many weeks all the used teabags they could lay their hands on in order to make a vast quantity of tea wine in the bath ready for a party.   Rumour has it that everyone who attended that party was poorly putting Neil off becoming a wine connoisseur and onto beer for life.

It was at a subsequent party, where there were some physiotherapy students including some from Norway hence the party was being held on Norwegian Independence Day, May 16th 1974, that Neil and Pam first met.   Pam must have made a remarkable impression for on their first time of going out together Neil wore a suit, not many students did that. Their relationship grew as Pam studied physiotherapy and Neil medicine, culminating in their marriage in 1977.  Both of them were qualified by now and Neil determined to make his own mark in the world of general practice, completing his vocational training and taking a partnership in the Health Centre at Kidderminster.   

As in all the things Neil did he was enthusiastic, innovative and persevering.  He instigated and saw through the move of the practice from the Health Centre to its present premises Stanmore House which in turn has grown over the years into the success it is today. He and I both taught medical students from Birmingham and the practice progressed to become what is known as a Firm I teaching practice.   We both shared a degree of scepticism over modern teaching methods which would often provoke “grumpy old men” discussions when we met for a pint. Neil served on the PCG and executive board helping to steer primary care services in Wyre Forest.

He progressed through to senior partner but always tried to be a family doctor in the true sense of the word, not looking after illnesses but looking after the patients in the context of their family and their home lives.   In this he was of the old school but he was right.   He was extremely popular with his patients and in turn was selfless in his care of them.   I know that many patients regarded him not as just their doctor but also their friend. He was highly respected by his partners and, perhaps unusually in today’s general practice, loved his work to such an extent that he was not wishing for retirement.

During this time he still continued playing hockey for Kidderminster and was the first team captain for many years during the 80s becoming chairman of the club in the 90s and being made president last year. He encouraged his children in sport and was extremely proud of their achievements with his two sons representing Kidderminster County and Midlands teams.  His greatest pride in this respect though was saved for when he played in the Kidderminster 2nd team with both his sons playing alongside him.  He would have liked to have thought he was fitter than them but youth does have advantages. He assisted with coaching both at Kidderminster and at the Royal Grammar School, Worcester where his boys attended, going on overseas trips where I understand he assisted introducing the pupils to the requirements of beer drinking in successful hockey players.

These were happy times and in between hockey matches Pam and Neil were blessed with two sons, James and Tom, and a daughter, Alice.  Neil practised just in time before it ever became a management mantra.   Each of the boys either arrived just in time for Neil to disappear off to a hockey match or the match finished just in time for him to rush back for the delivery.   Only Alice, his daughter, showed any consideration arriving on a Tuesday when no matches were being played. As if this was not enough, Neil pursued interests in motorcars and racing.   He was Medical Officer at Shelsley Hill Climb and acted as Marshall on track days. He rebuilt an Austin Healy Sprite, a Dutton and Triumph Vitesse, and recently bought a race car.

As the children grew up on returning home from hockey matches he would return to, in turn and over the years, kittens and chickens developing an interest in animal husbandry he never knew he had but I understand he emphatically drew the line at pigs. For Neil, however, by any measure, the most important thing to him was his wife and family.   He never tired of saying how lucky he was to have met and married Pam some 29 years ago and the two of them having three wonderful children who brought Pam and Neil so much pride and happiness over the years.   He never begrudged being a combination of a cash dispenser and a 24 hour taxi service.  

The love within the family could not have been more evident than in the past two years of his final illness which he faced with great dignity and courage, and in the final days at home with is family.  Neil was not only a friend to his patients he was a friend to his colleagues, his sporting companions and everyone he had contact with.   So many of you here today reflect the esteem in which he was held. 

He was a loving husband, a doting father, a good doctor and a great friend.   We are all the poorer for his passing but how much poorer would we be had he not been such a part of our lives.

 Bob Ingles

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New Member - Mark Roberts

Thank you for the invitation to introduce myself. I trained in Cambridge as an undergraduate and then later as specialist registrar and clinical research fellow. I always wanted to be a doctor and have a long family pedigree in medicine, though I can’t define the exact moment that I decided to train in infectious diseases. I think I was lured in that direction by a keen interest in insects, and especially moths, with a particular fascination for all those extraordinary life cycles of the tropical infectious diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis. In Cambridge, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to undertake an MD thesis on the tropical parasitic infection leishmaniasis. I studied the potential of DNA vaccines to elicit immune responses in mammals. You may wonder how that fits into the practice of clinical infectious diseases in Worcestershire! Surprisingly perhaps, it was an excellent training for the wider application of molecular biology techniques, immunology, epidemiology and the influence of genetics on predisposition to disease. All very relevant here and I hope to explore how I can develop the field locally whilst also practising as a general physician.

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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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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.

  What a day. Just the perfect day.

Mike Ward


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