UCL News


Liz Sampson reflects on being awarded William Farr Medal

15 September 2014

I was very honoured to be nominated by the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry for the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries' William Farr Medal.

This is awarded annually to medical practitioners who have made a significant contribution to the management of illness in elderly people. This can be in any research discipline as part of original work by those who are in mid-career. The award consists of a medal and is named after William Farr, a Fellow of the Royal Society, who stressed the importance of correct diagnosis in planning clinical treatment.

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries was founded by Royal Charter in 1617 and the ceremonial Galen dinner took place on May 28th 2014 in the Hogwarts-esque oak paneled Great Hall (dates from 1671). Dress code was "white tie and decorations".

I was initially daunted by the formality of the evening, which involved processing in full academic gown with the Master, Wardens and Court of Assistants, a formal presentation and a brief acceptance speech, where I spoke about our research on dementia, pain and palliative care. However, things became much more relaxed after the speeches and we were treated to a fine five-course dinner and various delights from the Society's impressive wine cellar. Fellow guests included my husband, numerous presidents of the Royal Colleges (including our own Professor Sue Bailey - good to see a familiar face), Nobel Laureates, City Liverymen and representatives of our Faculty executive, Noel Collins - a splendid sight in his full formal white-tie - and Gianetta Rands. Old Age

I'd like to thank the Faculty executive for their nomination. The medal has not been awarded to a psychiatrist (or a woman) before (!) and it was a great opportunity to promote old age psychiatry and dementia research.