The 1972 Club reunions: not all feasting and frivolity
Dr Ian Clark (MB ChB 1972) describes what it was like to study Medicine here in the late 1960s and why the 1972 Club decided to give back by setting up a class medical scholarship as part of the Wardlaw Scholarship scheme.
Reminiscences – often over-romanticised – are the order of the day when a bunch of retired medics are together at five-year class reunions. Warm fellowship derived from the common experience of studying medicine at St Andrews is unequivocally uplifting and some good fun can be had together, even as we now review the toll on our numbers wrought by the passing years.
Class sizes were small in the late 60s, with approximately fifty students at St Andrews and another fifty at the then Queens College, Dundee making for a degree of intimacy unfamiliar in larger establishments. In earlier years some of the teachers who inspired us all were warmly welcomed to the reunions as guests of honour.
When we visited the Bute building to remind ourselves of its history before the new School of Medicine opened on the North Haugh (with funding from many of us for lecture seats), it was sobering to see photographs of our neophyte-selves taken upon our arrival in 1966. Those were different times. You could still get to St Andrews by rail and I well remember standing on the station platform for the first time with my cardboard suitcase, suppressing feelings of both anxiety and excitement. Gowns were worn at dinner in halls and there was even table service. There were strict regulations in place when male students visited female students in their hall of residence, with the famous Mrs Tudhope – Warden of Chattan – scrutinizing each male visitor to make sure they departed.
In 1967 Queens College became the University of Dundee just after the Tay Road Bridge was opened effectively bringing the two locations closer. Most of the class from St Andrews finished their clinical training together with their Dundee colleagues at the clinical medical school across the Tay. Some of us would travel daily across the bridge in the third term of year three.
Reunions are not all feasting and frivolity. At the 1972 Club 45th reunion in 2017 the class turned its collective attention to the Wardlaw Scholarship scheme, and an interest was sparked which has resulted in a class medical scholarship that was awarded for the first time this academic year.
The impetus for this development is hard to pin down exactly, but a wish to enable less advantaged students to study at St Andrews undoubtedly brought out generous contributions from many class members. In the late ‘60s the class contained a significant number of students from poorer backgrounds, supported then by generous grants. These students might be characterised as the Alan Bennett Grammar School contingent who, for the most part, mixed happily with the more privileged – among whom were privately educated scions of academic and medical families. This commingling one hopes was to everyone’s advantage.
There is no doubt that such social mobility is less assured for the bright but under-resourced student today, so it was with particular pleasure that the 1972 Club noted the efforts the University is now deploying to reach out to all aspiring students, and thereafter sought to make its own contribution.
The 1972 Club fund is made up of small annual contributions alongside one-off, gifted sums and larger regular contributions, allowing the student an annual scholarship of £4,000. For those who might consider a similar course with their year club, then the prospect is pretty straightforward and well supported by the University’s Development Office. The ’72 Club members were canvassed to see if they would help, and small annual or more regular sums were requested. Twenty members offering £200 per year will accrue the necessary £12,000 after three years.
The first recipient of the 1972 Club Wardlaw Scholarship has written about her experiences so far and we will be sharing this with the class, hoping to encourage those who have not contributed to do so in the future.
Our 50th year reunion – a very special one – will be in 2022, and will no doubt generate a wealth of further reminiscences to share.
I would be happy to support anyone setting up a class scholarship and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.