Michael John Fairey CB. MA. 20.9.33-19.11.22
FEB 2023 -MICHAEL JOHN FAIREY - AN APPRECIATION.
Michael Fairey, the former President of the Friends of the Royal London Hospital and Honorary Member of the League of Nurses, died in November 2022 after a long battle against age and Parkinson’s disease.
Michael attended Queen Elizabeth's School Barnett (Boys Grammar School) and then entered Jesus College Cambridge. In 1958 he married Dr Audrey Kermode and they had a daughter Anne and two sons, Mark & Jonathan. Then in 1990 he married Victoria Hardman.
In 1952 he became a Junior Administrator at St. Thomas’s Hospital and then Group Development Secretary at the Westminster Hospital. His next appointment was in 1960 at the London Hospital. From 1962-72 he was Deputy HG and then until 1974 he was the last House Governor of the Hospital. That experience must have sowed the seed for his life-long devotion to it.
He was the beloved husband of Victoria and father to Anne, Mark and Jonathan. The Times notice posted by his son Mark Kermode, neatly described him as ‘a much loved and admired man, described by all as a true gentleman. He dedicated 40 years of his life to the NHS’.
He then became the Regional Administrator of the North East Thames Regional Health Authority and from 1984-9 was at the Department of Health and Social Security. In 1989 in recognition of his work in the Civil Service as a Deputy Secretary, he was awarded the CB (Companion of the most Honourable Order of the Bath). In 1991 he moved back (without interview) to the Royal London Hospital as its first Chief Executive. The Chairman at that time was the former Admiral of the Fleet, the singular Sir William Staveley. Unsurprisingly, now back in the hospital which he had already done so much to strengthen, he flourished. About 1962 Mike had correctly predicted the coming medical data revolution and he had one of the first hospital computers at installed at the London. That perspicacious foresight was fundamental to its later success. However, in 1994 Michael left the CEO role but he did not go far; he became the Secretary of the London Hosp Medical College.
Appropriately, on retirement in 1996 he became the Commissioning Editor of the British Journal of Health Computing. He liked to remember that one of the seminal papers he had written in 1969 was with the distinguished clinician Dr Thomas Airey. He would grin as he referred to it as the Airey–Fairey paper. He was always busy volunteering for something, either with the Soldiers Sailors and Airmen's Families Association (SSAFA) or as Chairman of the Governors of St Catherine’s Church of England Primary School, Ware. There the school motto is from John 10.10; ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’ I think he would have liked that.
At his Requiem Mass on 12th December 2022, Mike’s son Jon read the beautiful words of the poem ‘When Great Trees Fall’ by Maya Angelou. Next, the Prayer of the Order of the Bath was coupled with the Prayer of the London Hospital. That touching prayer from the Victorian era has been heard in the wards of the hospital over many decades as a beacon of hope by many thousands of patients.
In his eulogy, besides emphasising Mike’s lasting and unwavering dedication to the Hospital and Medical College, Mark noted that his father had an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything from astro-physics to Bix Beiderbecke. He had always enjoyed church music and for more than 20 years had pleasure singing in the church choir. He had a particular love of Japan and he and Vicki, his undoubted soul mate, had many happy times travelling Asia and visiting Walberswick...‘A lot’. Mike was a Freeman of the City of London and a non medical member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. He was the Vice Chairman of the Parochial Church Council, a Trustee of the Alumni of his Cambridge College, a member of the Athenaeum and a volunteer Mentor for the Princes Youth Business Trust. For 12 years he served in the Oxfam Bookshop (he was a collector of eccentric books) and he was a Rugby fan. But less well known was that his choice of house was determined by his enthusiasm for model railways. Mark concluded that he was kind, funny, proud, and stubborn and although he could be grumpy, he was always true and polite - with that reassuring smile.
Miss Trudy Wood, the former Director of Nursing at the Royal London Hospital and past President of The League of Nurses remembers Mike as a most loyal servant of the hospital over many years. She observed that he was always very supportive of the staff and particularly the nurses. She said during his final years he became an Honorary Member of the League of Nurses which he continued to support after his retirement. She asserted it was a privilege and a pleasure to have worked with him.
Mr Jonathan Evans, the former Archivist to the Trust, reports that Mike and Vicki were very supportive of the Archives and Museum, and that Mike even joined the committee. Jonathan recalls Mike’s 1994 hospital leaving party in the Grave Maurice when, to much amusement, Mike said it was the first time he had had to give a speech in a pub!
For my part, as a young doctor in training and then a junior consultant, I remember Mike as a man of resolution and solutions. I had the feeling the hospital and medical school were in the hands of a person who absolutely loved the place and we could all be sure he would do his very best for it. I look back to those times with gratitude and thank him and Victoria for the kindly and supportive way they dealt with me and those in my sphere. Truly, I do not think the Royal London Hospital will see his like again. I would like to have said to him ‘Thank you Mike; a great innings’.
The Friends’ offer their sincere condolences to Victoria, his children Anne, Mark and Jonathan and to his grandchildren.
Prof. Trevor Beedham. President, Friends of the RLH. 1st Feb.2023
MRS HELEN TAYLOR-THOMPSON: AN APPRECIATION
Mrs Helen Margaret Taylor-Thompson OBE, Hon.MD (nee Laurie-Walker) who died on 6th September 2020 aged 96 had been a Vice President of the Friends.
She had a fascinating and distinguished career. First as a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry - Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps) and then aged nineteen she signed the Official Secrets Act. Her role during World War II as part of Winston Churchill’s ‘secret army’ was to send coded messages to the SOE (Special Operations Executive).
In 1952 she became a member of the board of the Mildmay Mission Hospital in Hackney. It had been founded as a Christian Mission in the 19th century by Catherine Pennefather following the cholera outbreaks. In 1988 after the merger with the Royal London Hospital Mrs T-T led the campaign to keep the hospital open as Europe's first specialist AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) hospital and became the first chairperson. Diana Princess of Wales visited the hospital many times. Memorably, on February 24th 1989 without wearing gloves, she shook the hands of AIDS patients. Several years later Mrs T-T started the Mildmay Centre in Uganda where over 100,000 people have been cared for.
In 2000, ‘Education Saves Lives’ was also founded and Mrs Taylor-Thompson was its chair too. In 2003 the Charity was launched at 10 Downing Street. It uses interactive DVDs in local languages to educate millions of young people throughout Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America how to avoid serious illnesses.
In addition to her many charitable works Mrs Taylor-Thompson was a successful business woman. Towards the end of her life she told the Hackney Gazette that the war had upset her education. She wanted to be a doctor but her mother told her ‘I think business is what you’d be good at’. In 2019 she became a doctor. Her far reaching medical endeavours were recognised by the University of Buckingham which awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Medicine (MD).
Prof Trevor Beedham
President: Friends of the Royal London Hospital
Grace DedmanFebruary 2023
Grace Dedman, previously Principal Social Worker at The London Hospital and a
long- time member of the Committee of The Friends of The Royal London Hospital
died in York in December 2022 at the age of 98 years. Grace was born in Monmouth
(then in England), the middle of 3 girls and educated at the Haberdashers School
there. When she left school during the Second World War she went into the research
department of a firm making aeroplane propellers as an assistant. From there she
went to a technical college for 5 years to obtain ordinary and higher national
certificates in mechanical engineering on a day release scheme. She worked with
trained engineers doing calculations, graphs and tests eventually doing some tests
in flight mostly on Wellington and Halifax bombers. At the end of the war Grace went
to Manchester University to study English. During the last year she decided to
specialise in social work and gained a post-graduate diploma in Social Studies at
The London School of Economics. Grace completed her training by taking the one -
year professional course run by The Institute of Almoners as social work was then
Grace’s first job was at The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London. It was a
small hospital for women and children with a staff of 2 medical social workers. Grace
was able to benefit from supervision from an American social worker who ran a pilot
study of staff supervision which was a new idea in the UK (this is now mandatory).
Following this Grace was appointed as senior almoner at The London in 1958
working mostly with the medical unit and was promoted to deputy head in 1963 and
went on to become Principal social worker until her retirement. She ran the
department at The London as well as Mile End Hospital, St Clement’s Hospital,
Bethnal Green Hospital and Mildmay Mission Hospital managing a large team of
social workers and social work assistants. She herself always enjoyed working with
medical teams and very much enjoyed the teaching aspect of the role. Her
experience in factory work was very valuable to her in appreciating the conditions in
which many people worked. She worked hard and was a conscientious and caring
social worker and was a wise and supportive ear for many colleagues in times of
difficulty. She was one of the first members of The Friends in 1979 and went on to
become a valued committee member (she also served on the Marie Celeste
Outside work Grace loved singing and was a very competent alto. She was a loyal
member of The London Hospital Choir, The Tilford Bach Choir and The Malcolm
Sargent Festival Chorus. She also loved walking in the UK and Norway . She had
friends in Norway and travelled there regularly, enjoying skiing with her friends. They
would stay in a mountain hut and spend the days touring on skis. This was a place of
“escape” to her for many years. Grace lived in a flat near Russell Square for many
years and her nephews and nieces all enjoyed staying with her and exploring
London. Her niece was to follow in her footsteps and became a social worker. After
retirement Grace continued to live there and kept very active. She loved to go and sit
in St George’s Gardens in her local square where she said she would always meetsomebody interesting and have a good chat. She completed crosswords, went to Latin lessons and was still doing Latin homework in her late eighties and earlynineties! She was always interested in hospital activities and the activities of The Friends.
Professor Trevor Beedham and Jean Robinson were able to attend her funeral in
York in January 2023 which recognised her important place in her family and her
long service to The London Hospital.
RAYMOND RUDDICK : A TRIBUTE
The Friends of the Royal London Hospital would like to record their gratitude to the family of Mr. Raymond Ruddick for a most generous donation.
Mr. Ruddick died recently aged 99. He had a very long and happy association with the Hospital and Medical School. His daughters, Carole and Angela, write that Sir Henry Osmond Clarke, who was his Wing Commander when in the RAF, suggested he apply for a course in medical photography and then apply to the London Hospital. Soon after he joined The London his talent for medical photography was obvious and he quickly became chief medical photographer. He then worked closely with all the distinguished members of the London Hospital staff of the day. Elsewhere he received a gold medal for his film on the muscle function of the fingers and he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
After retirement from the hospital, he was appointed to the Medical College. There he worked in the department of forensic medicine with Professor ‘Taffy’ Cameron and Dr Bernard Sims. The department had an international reputation. Taffy was not only a famous pathologist, who performed the post mortem on Rudolf Hess, but also a leading campaigner in the fight against doping in world sport. Bernard is universally regarded as the father of forensic odontology in the UK. Mr. Ruddick travelled with them to record their material. Carole and Angela recall that the secrecy necessary for their high-profile cases sometimes required unorthodox methods, like getting sensitive forensic material through customs in boxes marked ‘Mars Bars’.
Mr. Ruddick pioneered innovative practice including the use of reflective ultraviolet light to show otherwise invisible marks. This technique was employed to reveal important evidence in the Australian ‘Dingo Baby’ case for which he was an expert witness. Raymond was highly regarded by his colleagues and his staff, some of whom kept in contact with him throughout his retirement. Privately he was a conscientious and deep-thinking man, who found solace from the anxieties generated by some of his work in his lifelong passion for the piano. He continued to play from early childhood until two days before he died.
Prof Trevor Beedham - President, Friends of the Royal London Hospital