Sadly this will be my sixteenth and final newsletter so perhaps I can be forgiven for reviewing how your Association has developed and grown over the past eight interesting years. In the early days we were the Moorfields Alumni Association (MAA) and there were about 180 members paying £25 a year (that still hasn’t changed). Our income was small and derived mainly from the sale of ties, scarves, cufflinks etc. and also our founding Honorary President, Peter Leaver’s excellent History of Moorfields, volume III, all proceeds of which were generously donated to the MAA. Membership entitled one to a reduction in the cost of these items and also to pay less to come to the annual Alumni Meeting and Dinner.
Expenses were also small, but we did manage a salary for secretarial help carried out in her own time and usually in her home by Brenda Aveyard, without whom the MAA would never have got off the ground. There was even an MAA website for information.
So it was that by 2010 when the late Peter Watson, our second Honorary President retired, the MAA had enough money for archival initiatives that Richard Keeler would recommend and to finance certain events such as reunion lunches for alumni. These have continued, with High Holborn alumni alternating with those from City Road each year and if celebrations for the Olympics and the 25th anniversary of the closure of High Holborn are included, altogether ten reunion lunches have been held so far and they remain well-attended and popular.
The MAA’s biggest project at that time was its major contribution to the creation and funding of the Moorfields Museum together with the Archive Room in the Library of the Institute of Ophthalmology, designed by Richard Keeler and officially opened in December 2011. In the Archive Room there hangs a board displaying the names of three alumni who were given the Lifetime Achievement Award and also various portraits of past and present consultants. High Holborn alumni through the MAA also commissioned the Moorfields History Board, again the work of Richard Keeler, which is sited near the main entrance to the hospital.
In 2012 Brenda Aveyard, for long the cornerstone of the MAA, volunteered to forego her salary, thus allowing the MAA to broaden its field of activity particularly in the area of education and support for those in training, and the first MAA bursary was awarded. By the end of 2013 over £2,000 had be given in grants to residents.
But it took a paradigm shift in the MAA’s funding to alter its role in hospital life. In 2014 the MAA merged with the Moorfields Surgeons Association (MSA) to form the Moorfields Association (MA) and the way this came about can be read in previous newsletters on the website. Income rose dramatically, due entirely to the influx of voluntary contributions from consultants undertaking private surgery in the hospital. This enabled the MA to employ a permanent part-time secretary with space in the Friends Office and to attend more to the leading component in our mission statement ‘to promote educational and social activities for current and past clinical staff at Moorfields Eye Hospital’. In the past three years over £30,000 in bursaries and grants have been given to residents, ophthalmic nurses and optometrists including
£15,000 donated to the John Lee Fund at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. The MA helps fund the annual Alumni Meeting, covering much of the costs of participating residents and, most popular of all, it hosts an annual Residents’ Winter Dinner. Nor are the non-clinical staff forgotten as the MA has continued the tradition started by the MSA of donating pairs of Arsenal season tickets to them - something that I and the President –Elect, both Chelsea supporters, are prepared to tolerate!
Over the past ten years membership has increased by 30% despite lapsed subscriptions, positive resignations and sadly several deaths, but income from this alone is not enough to sustain our activity. As I write this there is still unfinished work to do - to put the financing of the Association onto a firm footing, as the bulk of what the MA does is entirely dependent on the generosity of Moorfields consultants. Problems have arisen with the release of financial information to third parties (the MA) and this is something that may not be resolved in my remaining four months in post. It is therefore a battle that my successor will have to fight, but once sorted out it will allow the MA to continue to function the way it should do – uniting the current and past alumni of our remarkable hospital.
It only remains of me to thank all those who work very hard for the MA, especially Susan Hoyal, Peter McDonnell, Richard Keeler and Assad Choudry, for their help and to wish Larry Benjamin an enjoyable term in office just as I had - it’s been a great pleasure.
Tim ffytche Honorary President