Margaret Melville Rae MartinBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7540.554-c (Published 02 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:554
Margaret Melville Rae MartinFormer consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Newmarket (b 4 March 1941; q Edinburgh 1965; MRCOG, FRCS, FRCOG), died from breast cancer on 22 August 2005.
Rae, always a vivacious and enthusiastic polymath, was delighted in her last month of life to be received into the fellowship of the British Medical Association and to visit her beloved Edinburgh for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Royal College of Surgeons, of which she was a fellow. Sadly this event was deferred, as there were demonstrations in relation to the meeting of the G8.
Born in Inverness, she came of a distinguished medical family for, not only were both her parents doctors but her paternal grandmother had been the first woman to gain a fellowship of a Royal College of Surgeons. After the family moved to Edinburgh, Rae completed her secondary education at George Watson’s Ladies College followed by university there, qualifying MB ChB in 1965. Her love of travelling was fired by an early visit to Poland and following training posts in and around Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, while collecting the Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1971 and the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in the following year, she set off to Addis Ababa in 1973. There, she was appointed consultant in charge of obstetrics and gynaecology for three years.
On return to the United Kingdom in 1976, after a spell as locum consultant in Paisley, she applied for and was appointed a consultant in her chosen speciality at Newmarket General Hospital, a post she held until the inpatient unit was closed in 1992. She had fought long and hard against the threatened closure in the 1980s as she had committed herself so deeply to the Newmarket people. Never one to grudge, she accepted that her sessions were moved to the West Suffolk Hospital, but maintained her outpatient clinics at Newmarket until her retirement from the NHS in 2001. In 1985, she was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
She was a regular attendee and contributor at the annual representative meetings of the British Medical Association. In the 1980s she had turned to medical politics and represented her colleagues, as well as the interests of her patients, on the then Central Consultants and Specialists Committee and some of its subcommittees until her retirement.
Unfettered by marriage and children, her inherent wanderlust encouraged and led her to travel widely. This built on the early enthusiasm, through visits with her professional colleagues during her membership of the Women’s Visiting Gynaecological Club, as well as extensive holiday visits to exotic areas. These visits supplied material for her extensive albums, which represented the development of her love of photography. Her interests and hobbies were manifold. She entertained freely and was a superb hostess and a talented cook.
She fell victim, in 1980 to that all too common breast malignancy of women, but weathered through, working and visiting between courses of therapy, while secretly hiding the worst excesses from her nearest and dearest. Her ethos only accepted that illness was for "them" and not for her, a medical practitioner.
Her funeral was held at Coliston Parish Church in Edinburgh, and a memorial service in Woodditton Parish Church near Newmarket, in September, was very well attended.
Many colleagues have expressed their sadness at the death of Rae, who showed amazing courage in adversity. She will be sorely missed by her friends and surviving relations: two brothers, a niece, and a nephew. She will be remembered for her directness and camaraderie, but most of all for her funky sense of humour.
In writing this obituary CEF was ably assisted by Niall and Duncan Martin and Michael Bright. [Constance E Fozzard]
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