Around 200 of us started the Medical six year course in Glasgow University in 1952. Regrettably, a few of our year departed after only a couple of years – some deciding that Medicine was not for them and some not able to keep up with the demands of such an intensive and extensive course. However, our numbers were partly replaced by those who in earlier years had decided to take extra degrees in science before joining us to continue with a Medical career.
By the end of our six years around 175 people had ‘survived to tell the tale’. Of these just over 20% were female – a huge difference from today where the proportion of female graduates is over 50%. Approximately 90 of our original year are still alive although not necessarily kicking as well as they would like! Click here to see a list of the original Beta Club members.
During our first year at University our “Beta Club” was formed. Tradition dictated that it should be called the “1952 Beta Club” using the next letter in the Greek alphabet from that used by the previous Medical Year. Unlike today there were six years in the Medical Course and hence there were six Medical “Year Clubs” at that time. The purpose of our Club was primarily to raise funds for our Final Year Dinner. As we would be inviting all the professors and teachers over the whole six years, to the two dinners (in those days there were separate male and female dinners!) a considerable sum of money had to be accumulated over the following six years. Apart from the Final Year Dinners, funds were also required for the Final Year Book. Although fund-raising was important the social aspect, as you would expect from students, was not forgotten. Dances and outings were a regular feature during our six years.
A Committee and President were elected to deal with the day-to-day running of the club.
The original members were as follows:
President (Men’s President) – W. Bryce Stewart
Queen Margaret President (Ladies President) – Sheila M. Strachan
Honorary Secretary – Catherine A. Gardiner
Honorary Treasurer – Edmund A. Neville
Convener of Ways and Means – Noel Mohammed
Convener of Final Year Book – Ronald B. MacLeod
Convener of Ladies Final Year Dinner – Margaret E. Hanlon
Convener of Men’s Final year Dinner – Robert Glen
In the second year the members voted Stuart S I Parker as President in place of Bryce Stewart. Stuart has remained as President to this day. A “Sub-Committee”, the Quotes Committee, was formed with the task of finding appropriate quotes for every member of the year as well as all the staff members – a not inconsiderable task.
The members of this committee were as follows:
Convener of Quotes – Thomas I. McBride
– John P. McConnell
– Elizabeth Russell
– John C. Spence
As you would expect to be 65+ years since we started our University career, a good few of our members have passed on.
We have been lucky in that we have been able to keep in touch with most of our year – a no mean feat considering that they are scattered throughout the globe. Ours was the generation who qualified just when UK conscription had been abolished for all young men except for medics who were still eligible for call-up until the age of 35. This had the effect of MOs within the Services opting to leave as soon as possible, with the result that there were too many doctors seeking too few posts. Many in our year decided to emigrate to guarantee employment.
Quite uniquely, however, a nucleus of the original group involved with the organisation of the Beta Club has remained around the Glasgow area to this day. They have been able to keep the club reasonably active by means of the occasional newsletter and Reunions. The latter, understandably, since most of our members have now reached retiral age, has become the main activity of the club. Our first reunion was held 10 years after graduation in 1968. The next was at the 25-year mark in 1983. Thereafter they have been held every 5 years until 2016. Traditionally, they have been held in Glasgow although in 2003 Barcelona was the chosen venue. That was a one-off and we have reverted back to Glasgow. In 2018 we will celebrate our 60th year since graduating in 1958.
1952 Original Beta Club Members
Peter H. Pinkerton
|O. da Rocha Afudo
Gordon R. Sharp