Brenda Mary SlavinBMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4020 (Published 22 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4020
- Catherine Andrews,
- Brendan Slavin,
- John Slavin
Brenda Slavin (née Stewart) was educated at Whalley Range High School, Manchester. Her family emigrated to South Africa in1948, cutting short her school certificate. Times were hard, and she was sent out to train and work as a secretary, but, in addition to shorthand and typing, she surreptitiously added Latin to her night school studies and, with this under her belt, was admitted to preclinical studies at Witwatersrand University. She was a good student and was stimulated by two teachers in particular, who shaped her future interests throughout life—Raymond Dart, of Australopithecus fame, and Sidney Brenner, a future Nobel laureate in biochemistry. She obtained an intercalated BSc in biochemistry in 1953. Her aim was that, with a bachelors degree, she could demonstrate and earn a little, to offset the costs of being a clinical student. A senior lecturer, an alumnus of her old school, recognised her talents, intervened, and advised her to go to Edinburgh for her clinical studies, lending her the initial money to make this change.
In Edinburgh she met Gerry, a student in the same year, who was to become her husband of 57 years. They graduated in 1957, and, after house jobs in Edinburgh’s teaching hospitals, she accompanied him to the Bechuanaland protectorate for his national service. There, as a medical officer, she initially studied malnutrition among infants and schoolchildren in the Bamangwato reserve. She then undertook general duties in bush clinics and hospitals. …