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Welcome to the RUMs Alumni Association Newsletter

Welcome to the Spring/Summer issue of the RUMS Alumni Association Newsletter. This is an online version of the association's newsletters.

Read on for the latest news from the School and details of upcoming events for members.

If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter then we would be delighted to hear from you. Just get in touch at joel_smith@hotmail.co.uk.

Your RUMS Alumni Committee

RUMS Alumni Ties

RUMs Alumni ties are now available.

We hope to produce more alumni related merchandise in the near future but our first offering comes as this excellent fashion accessory.

100% Silk

The RUMS Crest on a Navy background

£20 (inc Delivery)

To place your order e-mail rumsalumni@uclmail.net.

Careers evening - Monday 9 June 2014

The RUMs Alumni Association will be hosting a careers evening in June targeted at  Foundation Year Doctors and Final year medical students.

We will be welcoming speakers covering; General Medicine, General Surgery, GP, ACCS, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Psychiatry, Academic medicine and Radiology.

To attend, please register your interest via Eventbrite by signing up for a free e-ticket.

Doors will open from 6.30pm in the Royal Free Atrium. From 7pm speakers will then deliver a short summary on application to their specialities followed by drinks and canapés where trainees in all the specialities will be on hand to give you tips and advice one on one.

If you have already gone through the motions of applying for any of the above fields, and would like to help to advise and encourage the next generation, then we would be delighted to have you lend your expertise - get in touch at rumsalumni@uclmail.net.

Royal Free Rocks With Laughter

The Royal Free’s Institute of Immunology and Transplantation was warmly supported in this charity event by a host of top comedians.

The League of Gentlemen reassembled in a World AIDS Day fund-raiser for the Institute at the Adelphi Theatre, London.

Matt Lucas compèred the event which featured a host of top names including Harry Enfield and Harry Hill, who gave their time to support the Institute's research into treatments for conditions including cancer and HIV.

Read the full Guardian review.

A RUMs family

Our special thanks to guest writer Mary Kelly with the following article documenting her family of three generations of UCL medics, a real dynasty that are a proud part of the greater RUMs family.

This is the story of my family’s connection with University College London, where several generations have begun their careers in Medicine.

The story begins with my grandfather, Mr. Theodore Howard Somervell F.R.C.S.(1890-1974), who studied medicine and surgery at UCH (1912-1915) having completed a Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge University. On qualifying he immediately joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, and served both at home and at a casualty clearing station during the Battle of the Somme. In his autobiography he wrote passionately about his experiences, saying: “I think this is the most terrible thing I have ever seen, or am likely to see.”

He was one of those people who seemed to excel at everything he tried. He was a gifted artist, mainly painting landscapes, and also a keen musician. He grew up in the Lake District, and was a talented mountaineer. He was invited on two expeditions to attempt the climbing of Mt. Everest during the 1920’s. He was one of the team of climbers who went, in 1924, to Mt. Everest with Captain Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who both disappeared on the mountain within a few hundred feet of the summit. As one of two doctors on the expedition, my grandfather was responsible for taking the climber’s blood samples to monitor their health and oxygen levels. The use of bottled oxygen for mountaineering at altitude was still in the early stages of development during these early expeditions.  

During the most recent London Film Festival a restored version of the film, Epic of Everest, made by fellow mountaineer Noel Odell during this expedition, was shown for the first time. In that film he appears a few times, dwarfed by the magnificent Himalayan scenery, and always with a pipe in his mouth (which is also how I remember him, from my childhood). On his death the family discovered that he, together with all the other surviving members of the expedition, had been awarded an Olympic Gold Medal by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, in recognition of their exploits on Everest. It was typical of him that none of us knew about it until its accidental discovery.

Somervell went on to work in South India for the rest of his career after surviving that expedition.  After an earlier Everest expedition, he had visited a friend who was working as a surgeon at a Church Mission hospital in Kerela. On arriving at the hospital, he discovered his friend was ill, and Somervell helped him out by taking over his work for a week or so. This experience convinced him to change his career plans. Prior to leaving the UK he had been offered a job with one of the surgical teams at UCH, which he decided turn down in order to work where he felt the need was greatest.

He worked at the mission hospital in Kerala for many years, and later became a Professor of Surgery at Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu. A few years after his retirement, he received an OBE for his work as a Missionary Doctor.

His eldest son was my father, Mr. J. L. Somervell F.R.C.S., also studied Medicine at Cambridge and UCL. He qualified in 1951 and after completing his first few years as a Junior Doctor at UCH and other London hospitals, he then followed his father's example by working as a Missionary Doctor in South India, where I spent much of my childhood. In all he spent 13 years working there, and undertook some interesting projects. One was to secure a reliable water supply for the hospital. They had previously had to buy water from a local merchant, and the supply was only switched on for an hour or two each evening. Another concerned promoting family planning. It was then the culture in rural South India for families to have as many children as they could, probably due in part to high levels of infant mortality.

The family returned to the UK in 1968, and my father eventually became a Consultant Surgeon in the West Midlands.

The story then skips a generation, but is picked up again by the youngest of my father’s grandchildren, Anna Kelly, who is currently a year 2 post-graduate Medical Student at UCL. She chose to apply to UCL based purely on her own experience and research, not because of the family connection. Sadly, her grandfather died a few years before she started her course, but had been delighted that she wished to become a Doctor, and gave her plenty of encouragement. She has also grown up listening to stories about her great-grandfather, and surrounded by a great many of his paintings.

Leaving London - an F1s view

The lottery of FPAS means graduates could end up working in a location far from their no.1 choice. But is this a bad thing? Guest writer Avni Hindocha shares her experience of a move to Manchester and how she found the transition.

I moved back home to complete my foundation years in a busy central Manchester hospital. 

Did I make the right decision?


- Getting out of London has meant that I am finally happy with my bank balance! Staying at home for even six months has meant that I am now in a position to look at mortgages for flats in the city centre. Other FY1s are in similar positions to myself. 

- We can also all afford to own cars and live either in the city or a suburb about 20 minutes drive away. No real commuting!

- It has to be said that the north has a considerably more friendly patient population than I ever experienced in London.The same goes for healthcare professionals, the majority of whom are northerners themselves. Northern banter definitely makes the job easier!

- I have been working at a big inner city teaching hospital which is akin to UCH and the Royal Free in terms of atmosphere and opportunities for research and exposure to tertiary specialties.

- Leaving the RUMS community has meant that I can start afresh with my own interests.

- Manchester is a city that has changed and improved significantly since I left it 6 years ago. There are suddenly new areas in town full of new apartments, bars and shops and this is ever increasing. There is something for everyone and every lifestyle and it is a great place to live at all stages of your life.


- Health inequality is plain to see here and it's also very depressing to see how stretched the hospital and support services have become. Despite this morale is suprisingly good amongst the staff at my hospital.

- The weather. Rain. 

- There are days when I really do miss the UCL support network and the majority of my friends who are down in London. I feel like I'm missing out and so keep reminding myself that working life would have been very different to uni days. The UCL support network extends beyond my peers; losing contact with the doctors and supervisors that I spent years getting to know and having to rebuild those relationships up here has been difficult (but not impossible).

- By leaving UCL you automatically lose instant access to those specialities that are rare to find in the rest of the country: infectious diseases and tropical medicine were my particular favourite, as well as resources such as the Wellcome Trust and all the UCL research departments. It's only once you leave UCL that you realise just how much we had at our fingertips!

On being a UCL graduate

- Those communication skill sessions actually have paid off. Thanks UC. The bedside (and interprofessional) manner of some of my colleagues is shocking!

- UCL graduates have experience of both general medicine and some very niche specialities which I feel has stood me in really good stead when understanding and managing patients on a daily basis.

- You are one of a kind and very much respected by your seniors - UCL clearly has an excellent reputation around the country.

Annual Alumni Dinner 2013

We would like to extend a warm thank you to all who were able to attend the Alumni dinner on the 16th of November 2013, and made it into such a fantastic evening. Some photos of the event are attached. It was yet again a great success and special praise should go to our guest speaker Professor David Bender who kept us entertained during the evening.

This year’s event will be in November, date to be confirmed soon.

View the photos on RUMS Alumni Facebook

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