Hepscott WI was honoured to welcome Newcastle-born renowned paediatric oncologist Professor Sir Alan Craft to its February meeting.
Intrigued by the title of his talk Medicine Through The Cat-Flap, members awaited the reason. He explained that he had taken it from Kate Adie’s book Nobody’s Child, and it meant ‘by the skin of one’s teeth’.
This described how some of his life’s decisions had been reached, from entering Newcastle University as a medical student via a plea from his father — his initial offer was for dentistry at Leeds — to his decision to specialise in bone tumours. Originally as one of only eight paediatric oncologists in the country, they divided out the specialisms and as the youngest he got bone tumours and went on to become the country’s leading expert.
Over the years, through his work with other paediatric oncologists, cancer treatment for children has become standardised across the world and during his working life he has seen survival rates of children with Ewing’s tumours rise from 28 per cent in 1977 to 90 per cent today — a truly amazing success story.
We were delighted to discover that as a young Houseman at the RVI in 1969 he was sent to Ward 2, where the “scary” Ward Sister was none other than our lovely WI Adviser Brenda Houlison. To her astonishment he presented her with a gift-wrapped and beribboned brick, a memento from the rubble when the same Ward 2 was demolished a few weeks ago.
Almost a tradition now, our March meeting will take place at Cresswell House, but this year we hope to learn more about flower arranging instead of eating the results of a cookery demonstration — a feast for the eyes instead of the stomach.
This will be on March 21 and anyone who needs a lift should contact a member of the committee.