Reunions held in 2006: Class of 1966

8 - 10 December 2006

By Jean Firth


George Allwright, Ernest Banda, Mike Bennett, Rob Buley, David Charles, Jonathan Clain, Philip Cohen, Ann Crozier, Faiza Davids, Christine Dawkins, Bruce Dietrich, Peter Dryburgh, Leon Fine, Jean Firth, Pierre Greeff, Malcolm Harvey, Steve Higgs, Leon Jedeikin, Harold Joffe, Victor Knutzen, John Latham, Maxwell Locketz, Jesse Loxton, Peter Maggs, Gerard Malan, Rudi Marx, Rodney Matisson, Melanie Nicolson, Ann Orren, Everard Polakow, Mike Redfern, Jacques Rossouw, Brian Roman, Michael Scher, Ivor Shaskolsky, Eileen Sloan, Leon van den Berg, Rindert van Zinderen Bakker, John Vaughan, John Wootton

(Click on the image to see a large version.)

There surely could not be too many other occasions that would equal the thrill and excitement of a group of people who had bonded closely for six or seven years meeting up after a period of forty years! The shrieks and shouts of joy said it all as the Class of '66 met for their 40 Year Class Reunion, held over the weekend of 8 – 10 December 2006. After the initial excitement of seeing one another again over registration and a cup of tea, we were taken on a guided tour of the new facilities and developments at Medical School. There was great interest in what was new, but also nostalgia at the loss of some old favourites.

The tour then continued to the "Old Main Building" which, of course, was the hospital that we had grown up in and where many had done their Internship. The Heart Transplant Museum was of great interest, as those were the theatres we had worked in, and we were interns when this world event had taken place! We could still well remember the excitement of those days and all the roll players. From the old to the new, the tour then took us into the New Groote Schuur Hospital, new to most of us, where the visit to the recently re-vamped Cardio-thoracic wards was an inspiration and tribute to another surgeon with flair and courage.

Gathering together for teas and mealtimes was amongst the highlights of the whole weekend. The cuisine was excellent on all of these occasions, and they were spread throughout the weekend as special times to meet, chat and reminisce, and catch up on all that had happened over the past years. Lunch in the Tafelberg Room at the Hospital and the Cocktail Party in the new Wolfsohn Pavilion at Medical School, were two such occasions. The Cocktail Party was also graced by the presence of our current Dean, Prof Marian Jacobs, and two old favourites, who had taught us – Prof Arderne Forder and Prof Kay de Villiers. Many anecdotes were shared amidst great camaraderie and laughter.

The highlight of the weekend for many was the Academic morning on Saturday, held in the Wolfsohn Pavilion. It was a good mixture of academia, reflection and personal experience. Jonathan Clain presented the latest in GIT ultrasound from the Mayo Clinic, Leon Jedeiken updated us on Attention Deficit Disorder and Ann Orren shared her ongoing research in Complement Deficiency and Meningococcal Infections. Jacques Rossouw gave us an insight into the results of the Women's Health Initiative of the NIH and Phil Cohen entertained with a graphic talk on Snakebite! Dave Charles shared his experiences of the "mission" to repair cleft lip and palate in the Phillipines and Harold Joffe gave us his perspective on HIV/Aids in South Africa. There were three very personal and moving talks: Michael Scher recounting his own experience with hepatitis C infection, Ev Polakow sharing his journey in life with Logotherapy and Pete Dryburgh, after a lengthy greeting in Maori, reflecting on his life in Aotearoa – in verse! He concluded poignantly with a love song sung in Maori! Question time followed: George Allwright asked that it be put on record that he apologised to all our "non-white" class mates for the fact that he, personally, had not said or done anything to make a stand against the Government policy of apartheid, a fact he deeply regretted.

The "Cape Doctor" unfortunately saw to it that the proposed boat trip to Robben Island could not take place. Amidst much frivolity the group persuaded one of the Waterfront restaurants to allow them to eat their "packed lunches" on the premises in return for the orders of drinks and beverages. We have remained an innovative class!

The formal dinner was held at Smuts Hall – a wonderful choice which brought back memories, if not of the place, then certainly of the breathtaking night-time views. Gerard Malan, one of our "mature" students, who had spent his medical career as a Medical Missionary, opened with the reading of a Psalm and Grace. Prof Stuart Saunders, best remembered by the class for his brilliant "extra" tutorials held in a packed lecture theatre on Saturday mornings, was our Guest Speaker. His wit and insight had not diminished over the years! Steve Higgs was an excellent MC and Mike Bennett amused and challenged throughout his talk. Once again, this was a great time of fun and friendship – one was constantly amazed that the years rolled back so easily and one simply picked up where one had left off.

Sunday dawned a beautiful day, which made the conducted tour of Kirstenbosch Gardens a real pleasure. Even the locals learnt much from the enthusiastic guide. Lunch was held in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Restaurant, which marked the end of a truly memorable weekend.

None of this would have happened were it not for the Alumni Office of the University of Cape Town. We are deeply indebted to Joan Tuff, whose tireless work over many months culminated in spectacular success. Our very special thanks to her, for her superb organisation, very good choices, her unique ability to nag gently and for spending her birthday with us! Finally, how could all of this have taken place, had not everyone made the effort to come! Our special thanks to all of you for your contributions to making this memorable occasion such a success. Some came from far off places and we hope were well rewarded for the effort. To those who were not there – we missed you and you missed a really special occasion. We hope to see you all in 2016, God willing!