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The Churchill Memorial Fellowship

Do you enjoy travel? Meeting new people? Sharing ideas? Could a Churchill Memorial Fellowship be for you? Or have you already been a Fellow?

The Churchill Memorial Fellowship Trust is a charitable body that funds British citizens to travel abroad to investigate inspiring practice in other countries and then bring that knowledge back to the UK for the benefit of British citizens. Peter Mayer and Doug MacMahon, both now retired geriatricians, share their experiences.

By chance, Doug MacMahon and I recently found ourselves on top table at a Fellowship Tea with Churchill’s grandson, Jeremy Soames and Lord (Patrick) Cormack at the House of Lords on the 9th December. Neither of us had previously realised the other had done a Fellowship. Mine was in 1988 and his 1999. On chatting, we wondered how many of other colleagues have done one also. Indeed, have we missed an opportunity to build on our findings and maybe really influence opinion? Equally, how many of our colleagues are aware this opportunity exists?

We were encouraged to think about maintaining contact as the fellowship does with anyone who has participated. For example, one guest had done a trip in 1966 - the very first year. I have a special reason to remember it as a life changing experience, meeting my now wife Rosie, already a fellow, at a Fellowship meeting, just before going.

I studied older people’s services in Australia starting with an RCP visit to Bangkok where Queen Soraya was given an honorary FRCP. After visiting Sydney for the 300th anniversary celebrations I joined my old Birmingham boss, Ronald Cape, and during my time visited units in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth and had lots of fun visiting vineyards etc. and making many friends who remain so even now. On return I bored many an NHS committee with “In Australia…” and still do!!

Doug went to Australia, and also New Zealand, Canada and Australia, visiting known colleagues, old friends, and important opinion leaders to review their issues and problems and compare our thoughts on solutions. His interest was in community schemes to promote good health in old age, and his findings then are still relevant today, when we see the chaos caused by lack of investment in health promotion, community rehabilitation, and social care/housing for older people.

We would love to develop a ‘Winston Churchill Geriatricians Fellows Group’ with like-minded colleagues, both to share our experiences and maybe also to share our thoughts to make some impact on our own services in the UK, now and in the future.

Also we would wish to encourage and mentor others to consider applying themselves. Anyone aged over eighteen may apply and several of our colleagues have followed on our suggestions. Applications are normally invited in May of each year and remain open until September. Every year about 100 people are selected following a very simple application and interview. One in ten applicants then go on the trip of a lifetime to study a topic of their choice from the ten categories announced each year. All expenses are covered. On completion, a report is requested that may vary from a travelogue to significant academic publication. This, in turn, leads to receiving a medal and an introduction to a group of extraordinary friends for life.

If anyone is interested, we suggest you register your interest on the website*, and we are both available to assist in any way we can.


Peter Mayer
Doug MacMahon
Retired Geriatricians

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