The campaign to launch the UWA Medical School was driven by some key Western Australians who shared a vision of greater availability and quality of health care for the community. Their tireless efforts and generosity propelled the campaign forward and resulted in the necessary funds being raised in a year.
Mary Raine honoured her husband’s pledge to the campaign when he passed away just before the Medical School was established and then later in 1960 bequested her full estate to medical research.
Her legacy has underpinned the careers of many young researchers who continue to hold leading roles at UWA and universities across Australia and around the world.
The role of Rotary clubs in leading the fundraising efforts to establish the UWA Medical School is well documented but the stories of the individual Rotarians who drove the effort give great insight into the deep links between Rotary and the health professions that continue until this day. Family connections have also continued, with many children and grandchildren forming part of UWA’s rich history.
The proximity of Royal Perth Hospital to the Rotary Club of Perth led to many health professionals taking an active role in their community. As Head Administrator at Royal Perth Hospital 1951–1968, Rotarian Joseph Griffith became Joint Director of the Appeal Committee.
ENT surgeon and Rotarian Dr Harold Nash led the 130 citizen’s committees across the State and took time away from his practice to travel 7000 miles (about 11,000 km) visiting regional communities, mobilising Rotary clubs and other community organisations in the bush. Harold’s son Dr Philip Nash also became an ENT surgeon and dedicated teacher for UWA. Philip was in one of the last cohorts to receive an Adelaide degree but did his last year at UWA. He sadly passed away in 2006 so missed the chance to receive an honorary UWA degree awarded to his classmates as part of the 50th anniversary celebration in 2007. Philip’s son Robert went on to study law at UWA.
Rotarian Dr Gordon Hislop (James Gordon) was a physician and Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) who was also a driving force behind the campaign. His son Ian Hislop was in the last Adelaide cohort and was awarded an honorary UWA MBBS 2007. Ian became a gastroenterologist and his children Rob (medicine) Kate (architecture) and Angela (arts) are all UWA graduates.
It was not only the medicos that got behind the appeal, however.
Rotarian Sir Claude Hotchin OBE, businessman, art dealer and former member of the UWA Senate organised an art exhibition to support the appeal.
Rotarian Sir Ross McDonald (lawyer, politician and member of UWA senate) was the Appeal Committee Chair. He visited corporations in UK that had interests in WA to garner support for new medical school – this came later in the form of research funds.
Rotarian John Keith Ewers used his professional writing skills to create booklets that were used for pre-appeal general education about the importance of a medical school:‘The Medical School and the Community’ ‘The Medical School and your Family’ ‘The Medical School and You’. He also wrote about the success of the appeal in the 1958 edition of the international magazine The Rotarian.
Rotarian Fred Johnston from Mt Lawley was a smallgoods manufacturer and political organiser who also became Chair of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Board. He became Rotary District Governor in the year the appeal started so would have had much influence on the mobilisation of Rotary clubs across the State. At the UWA Student Guild Street Appeal, members of the Rotary Club of Mt Lawley teamed up with the WA Roses Society to sell thousands of roses, contributing to surpassing the target of 10,000 pounds.
Key supporters from the medical community
War hero and endocrinologist Dr Bruce Hunt was a key figure in engaging the RSL clubs in the appeal. In late 1952, together with neurosurgeon Dr James (Jim) P Ainslie (also member of the UWA Senate) he jumped in the car and descended on WA Premier Ross McLarty in Pinjarra. Bruce’s former colleague Dr Donald Gutteridge describes this meeting in a forthcoming historical account as involving haranguing of the kind that may have served Dr Hunt well during the war years and also being somewhat assisted by whisky. As a result, the Premier conceded the importance of the project and the development of the Medical School was sped up. Dr Ainslie later joined the committee set up in 1955 to advise the new Premier Bert Hawke on the establishment of UWA Medical School.
As a result of this advocacy, the Clinical Research Unit at Royal Perth Hospital was established, with Dr Eric Saint appointed as the inaugural Director of Clinical Research in 1953. Dr Saint joined Dr Ainslie on the Committee advising the Premier and when the ultimate goal was reached he became Professor Saint (Medicine), one of the 11 founding Professors.
Surgeon and member of the UWA Senate Sir Hector Stewart completed his first year of medical science at UWA in 1920 before travelling to Melbourne to complete his degree. He was the Chair of the Royal Perth Hospital Medical School Planning Committee. His son Ian Stewart (UWA MBBS 1962) became an orthopaedic surgeon and granddaughter Ra Stewart (UWA Arts 1992) now leads corporate relationships for Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Sir Alex Reid was a public servant, Chair of the Royal Perth Hospital Board and former UWA Chancellor. He focused on engaging corporate support from the eastern states, as Sir Ross McDonald had done overseas.
Guild of Undergraduates
1956 Guild President Dr Ted Maslen led the UWA Guild Prosh street appeal that year in support of Medical School campaign. He contracted tetanus just after but recovered at Royal Perth thanks to the care of Dr Bruce Hunt. He handed over the 10,000 pound cheque to the appeal from his hospital bed.
What other names stand out in your memory or family records of this time? Were your parents or grandparents active in the appeal? How did having a local Medical School change your life?
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