1.         Alpha and Omega - Editorial, Hilary Boyle
Kidderminster Medical Society: Postgraduate bursary award
3.         Arley Arboretum - Elizabeth Seakins
4.         Cycling to Birmingham was off - Chris Gait

Either scroll down the page or click on an article.

To return to the Archive index
click here


Alpha and Omega…

This newsletter is both a first and a last. It is the last time a paper copy will be universally distributed. It is the first time the production has been an intercontinental exercise between the two editors, in Cyprus and Kidderminster! Barrie & Isobel Davies are now starting their new lives near Limassol, and it is an event which must not be allowed to pass without comment.

There is a party game where players liken others to types of car. Although it probably says as much about my paucity of knowledge of vehicles as anything else, I would call Barrie a Land Rover. This is intended as a compliment - not sleek or snappy, but a hundred per cent hard working and reliable, taking all rough ground in his stride and getting to places others don’t achieve! Barrie and Graeme Wilcox worked together to establish not only this newsletter, but were the driving forces behind the Primary Care Centre (in the days when it was a closely knit co-operative “owned” by the local GPs,  & successfully  running to everyone’s  advantage). Barrie was also one of the original “Flying Doctors”. The numbers of folk who pass through life, leaving no imprint after their going, ought not to include doctors - because of our intelligence, education and opportunities, we should be contributing more than most – and certainly doesn’t include Barrie. All of us in the Kidderminster medical community have benefited enormously from his contributions, and I for one would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge them.

A “Barrie Davies Memorial Cup” has been suggested – to be awarded annually for the house with the most flamboyant Christmas light display. Perhaps, in the interests of eco-awareness, he could instead become the uncontested Champion – but we will miss them!!

Like all emigrants, they are going because the reasons for going outweigh the reasons for staying, and they believe they will have a better quality of life there. On his website, Barrie has a long article detailing his thinking. As we are rather a ”chalk and cheese” act, its no surprise that I disagree with him – if any other readers would like to read it (www.flyingdoc.co.uk) & respond through these columns, I would be delighted!

                                       Hilary Boyle

click here to go to the top of the page


Important proposal for discussion at the AGM

Kidderminster Medical Society: Postgraduate bursary award and seminar room naming information

1.                  The Kidderminster Medical Society Postgraduate bursary: £3,085 per year for three years

A bursary, worth £3,085, would be awarded each year to a self-financing postgraduate student undertaking full-time research in the Medical School.  The award would initially be made for a period of three years but The Kidderminster Medical Society would have the option to renew this for a further period.  The bursary could be named ‘The Kidderminster Medical Society Postgraduate bursary’ or other name such as the Society sees fit.

The Society would be informed each year who had won the award and why and would be kept updated with the student’s progress through the year.

2.                  The Kidderminster Medical Society seminar room: £10,000

A seminar room would be named inside the new ‘Wolfson Centre for Medical Education’ which is due to be officially opened on October 12th 2006.  The room could be named ‘The Kidderminster Medical Society room’ or other name such as the Society sees fit.  A plaque would be placed both inside and outside the room.

As an example, below are pictures of the two plaques and the seminar room which was funded by the Sands Cox Society.


Members of the Kidderminster Medical Society would be invited back to the Medical School at least once a year.  The Society’s donation would be listed in the School’s medlines publication for alumni as well as the main University alumni newsletter.  The Society would also receive our ‘Donor News’ publication each year.

Medical School Student Facilities Building: Case for Support

The Medical School

The School is a world leader in research into immunity and infection, cancer studies, organ transplantation, heart disease, endocrinology, neuroscience and primary care, as well as an outstanding teaching facility.  The School is undergoing a major expansion of student numbers that will provide many much-needed medical practitioners for the foreseeable future. 

Today's students benefit from clinical teaching in 15 hospitals and 65 general practices all over the West Midlands.  Each of these has modern teaching equipment for clinical skills and multimedia links with the Medical School.  We are determined that expansion will not compromise teaching quality here on campus.  To attract the best medical students and to provide for them the very best in teaching and research facilities, we are constructing a contemporary, state-of-the-art building to augment the original 1938 facilities now unable alone to serve our needs. 

The Student Facilities building

The £12 million new building, due to open in 2005, will include learning, teaching, lecturing, social and catering space large enough to accommodate current and planned intake.  It will contain, at its centre, a new lecture theatre and it will integrate with the existing Electronic Learning Centre, a £2m facility, funded by the University, and opened in 2000, which contains 300 computer bays, 16 seminar rooms and also forms the hub of the School's Virtual Campus. 

Costs & Funding to date

After HEFCE provided much of the initial funding for the building, our aim was to raise the £3.5 million needed to complete the project.  As you can see we have made great progress towards achieving that goal:

Wolfson Foundation                       £1.5 million
Alumni contributions                       £1 million
NHS                                                 £0.9 million

Total raised so far                          £3.4 million

Amount required                            £100,000

Naming opportunities

1.         Lecture Theatre seat (£2,000 each)

The 450-seat Lecture Theatre is the central feature of the complex.  It will be a state-of-the–art lecture theatre containing cutting-edge audiovisual technology and it will allow entire years to be taught at once, something that we are unable to do in the present facilities.  It will be integrated with the School’s Biomedical Library, the Electronic Learning Centre and other small group teaching rooms, enabling the Medical School to provide the very best in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching as well as continuing professional development courses. 

2          Small group teaching (seminar) rooms (£10,000 each)

After entire years have been taught in the new Lecture Theatre, smaller groups will ‘break out’ into the newly refurbished small group teaching rooms.  We will have 16 such seminar rooms available, all of which will contain the latest audiovisual technology.  In these sessions students will be able to discuss important issues from the main lecture in more detail.


We will make sure that your generosity is noted wherever we can.  In particular we will:

   Engrave your name or that of a family member, friend or inspirational lecturer on a plaque on the rear of the seat or offer the naming opportunity for a small group teaching room.
List your donation in Medlines and the University Newsletter
Send you the annual Donor Newsletter
Invite you to return to the University and the Medical School once a year


Postgraduate Bursaries: Case for Support


It costs a minimum of £5,000 a year in living costs alone to study for a graduate degree.  Currently the minimum postgraduate course fee for 2005/6 is £3,085 per year.  However, depending on the course, the fee can be up to £20,000 per year.  This means that postgraduate students could by paying between £8,000 and £25,000 per year during their study.

The recent White Paper on Higher Education Funding has suggested the introduction of an annual fee of up to £3,000 that will be repaid by undergraduate students once in employment.  This means that from 2009/10 even the most frugal postgraduate student may already have already accrued a debt of £24,000, once you include living costs, during their previous three years of undergraduate study.

For many students, such a debt alongside the annual costs of a postgraduate course may be a major deterrent to continuing their studies.  Students from low-income backgrounds in particular may decide instead to gain employment quickly once their undergraduate degree is finished to start repaying their student debt. 

Challenge / need

The University believes that it is fundamental to a research-led Russell Group University that admissions should be based solely on ability and should be completely means-blind. 

Only this way can we ensure that the very brightest and best students are offered the opportunities the University has to offer, and that way maintain our national and international reputation. 

To ensure that no student is dissuaded from applying to the University or continuing their studies here we will establish a bursary scheme to support those who require financial assistance in paying their fees at Birmingham.

The Scheme

The new Postgraduate Bursary Scheme has been established to provide bursaries of at least £3,085 per year to graduate students who require financial assistance for between one and three years.

Applicants to Birmingham will be informed if they have been successful in their bursary application when they receive the offer of a place at the University.  We expect that this will encourage applications and allow acceptance of the place to be based upon the knowledge that support will be guaranteed.

When the scheme is fully funded, the University will provide up to 50 bursaries of £3,085 per annum for a maximum of three years for each student. 

Reciprocation Opportunities 

Donors may name a bursary when:

Recent donors have named the bursary they fund after family members and formative and influential teachers.  We are happy to discuss suggestions.

click here to go to the top of the page


Arley Arboretum

               After a soggy Bank Holiday Saturday the weather cleared just in time for the Medical Society outing to Arley Arboretum. As I arrived people were already struggling into their green wellies. We were met by the head arborealist who led us on an informative walk around the trees. Although the early magnolias were over, he introduced us to a beautiful yellow magnolia with a faint lemon scent - I'd love to have one in my garden. There are some record breakers amongst the trees, including the biggest Wellingtonia in the UK. Banging on the trunk of the sequoia led to the interesting conclusion that it was hollow!

            The kitchen garden is being transformed into a chicken area so that visiting children can see where eggs come from. Another area being improved is the native tree plantation. I was surprised to learn that many of the 1000 trees planted were going to be cut down, as they were just a wind break for the specimen trees. Scots pine had also been cut down from a plantation to give a beautiful view down the Severn, and a bog garden was being developed nearby.

            The walk brought on a good appetite which was sated by some very tasty canapés up at Arley House, kindly organised by Paul Williams - but first the elegant guests amongst us changed out of their wellies into their evening wear! The house is in complete contrast to the remains of the castle, being built in the sixties. The current tenant gave us some of the history of the house & estate and, thanks to his kindness, we were free to look around. We found that the indoor swimming pool had been covered over for a conference room and - no doubt thinking of the health benefits - some of us felt this was a shame! It wasn't even being used to rescue endangered newts!

            We left under a beautiful pink sky with ambitious ideas for our own gardens!

                                                                                                        Elizabeth Seakins


click here to go to the top of the page


                     Cycling to Birmingham was off

With the best of intentions to repeat last year, we were thwarted by British Rail / Central Trains who contrived engineering works on the line, so that we could not get back from Brum. However Judith Hardwick came to the rescue with an almost circular route involving canals and disused railway lines.

About 15 of us met on a bright Sunday morning, with no audible moans about the change of plan. With a blend of leisure cyclists and Tour de France hopefuls it was obvious that keeping everybody together was going to be difficult! We all meandered to Wolverley picking up the Hardwicks on route, which was useful as they knew the way. Past Kinver and the Stewpony where we carried on North with the Worcs and Staffs canal, stopping for some excellent ice cream and cakes at the Prestwood Nurseries. A panic call from the Davies family, who mislaid the start time, meant a detour back to pick them up. They indulged in many calories after only cycling a mile or so!

A few miles north we came off the canal at Swindon, along a quiet road to join the Pensett Railway Walk at Himley. We were quite happily cycling along this track, when Judith suddenly took us all off into some undergrowth. Picturesquely past a few burnt out cars, abandoned fridges and gravel pits we arrived at the Crooked House for lunch. What a great place! It even started to seem fairly horizontal after a few pints of Banks. We all sat outside in the sunshine, on a 10% incline, enjoying a well deserved lunch.

Not surprisingly it was difficult to muster everybody together again and start cycling, and even more difficult to find the railway again. However, Judith guided us past all obstacles to the end of the line, through a huge council estate and back onto the Stourbridge Canal. We then all felt in familiar territory with a straight run back to Kidderminster, spurred on by the England match starting at 4.00pm!

Everybody had a wonderful day, with some exercise and finding a traffic free route. The children coped with the 30 miles without complaints and seemed ready for more. My abiding memory was following behind David Starkie in tandem with son Duncan on the rear, enjoying Duncan’s regular cries of ‘come on Dad, faster, faster’, without pedalling much himself. That ,along with his regular leanings to the right, would make him a future captain of industry or Health Service manager!



Our grateful thanks go to Judith who came up with such an excellent route, and keeping us all on it.


Chris Gait

click here to go to the top of the page

To return to the Archive index click here