Reunion roundup

Reunions held in 2013: Class of 1998 reunion

22 November - 24 November 2013

Rose Mulder (Vorster)


Julia Ambler, Adele Anthony, Heather Bardwell (Bougard), Ryan Bond, François Bonnici, Martin e David, Khalid Dhansay, Dion Dorfman, Karen Du Preez, Tania Engel, Naomi Folb, Sue Ford, Marion Funke, Heike Geduld, Michael Gowen, Rebecca Gray (Crane), Anders Grötte, Ali Hamdulay, Leisel Herselman, Mark Hewat, Andrea Huggett, Prashant Jeram, Danielle Klemp, Clare Knapp (Kirby) Tamara Kredo, Usha Lalla, Dave Le Roux, Shelly Long, Jacques Malan, Cleve McIntosh, Tamlyn McKeag (Prevost), Sean Moodley, Vaughn Moses, Michael Mulder, Shirani Naidoo, Tammy Naidu, Marc Nortje, Kendall O'Callaghan (Brouard), Shannon Odell (French), Omar Omar, Fatima Parker, Jean Railton, Ash Rajkumar, Jamiel Rhoda, Sarah Salmon (Padoa), Simone Shelly, Rozali Spies, Regan Solomons, Shaheeda Sonday, Bruce Strover, Jeroen Swart, Donne Swift, Vanessa Tanser (Perrott), Shaahid Valley, Shelley Vamadevan, Rose Vorster (Mulder).

"It always seems impossible until it is done" - Nelson Mandela

With the recent passing of a great South African and world leader, Nelson Mandela, this quotation reminded me of our journey through Medical School. I'm sure you will all remember many "impossible" moments and yet here we are, 15 years later. We did what we thought might be impossible - we completed 6 tough years of medical school, which is an achievement of which we should all be proud. We did this with the support of our friends, colleagues and teachers, and reunions are an opportunity to remember the good (and trying) times.

Thanks must go to Joan Tuff of the Alumni Office for her tireless efforts to arrange the smooth running of an enjoyable weekend. Thank you also to Donne Swift and Mark Hewat, plus many other willing helpers: Ali Hamdulay, Tamlyn McKeag, Shaheeda Sonday, Karen du Preez, Shelly Long, Dave Le Roux, Leisel Herselman and Sue Ford for the "behind-the-scenes" help.

We had 56 classmates attending at least one of the events. We started by gathering on the evening of Friday 22 November, on the medschool campus for a cocktail function. Nametags were donned (to jog some memories) and the catching up and reminiscing began in earnest. We were joined by some very special guests: Prof JP van Niekerk, Prof Graham Louw, Prof Janet Seggie, Dr Chris Warton, Prof Arderne Forder and Dr Tham Mathinde. The Deputy Dean of Health Services, Dr Reno Morar, represented the current Health Sciences faculty deanery and welcomed us to our reunion.

For those who weren't able to make the reunion, here is a little snippet of some conversations ... Prof Forder was such a legend. Chatting to him at the cocktail function was inspirational - he is in his eighties and has literally just retired a "second time" as he put it, from teaching at Tygerberg. He took this post after retiring the first time from UCT. We shared our favourite Prof Forder quotes with him. Personally I've never been able to eat a devilled egg since hearing about their perils ... and he told us that evening that quite recently he was on the tube in London and a young man approached him and said he had trained at UCT and could still remember "where there be faeces, there be E.Coli"!! Frankly who could forget? (Apologies for the toilet reference)

We had several colleagues join us from all corners of the globe, and they deserve special mention ...

Shelley Vamadevan from London - he is now a management consultant at McKinsey, after completing a specialisation in anaesthesia, a super-specialisation in Intensive Care and then an MBA. Does Shelley have more hours in his day than the rest of us? He also has a lovely patient understanding wife (also an anaesthetist) and little boy!

Marion Funke joined us from Perth, where she is a Specialist Anaesthetist, mom of two, and still singing (remember Marion sang ?Domine Deus' from Vivaldi's Gloria at our graduation, accompanied by Gareth Nortje on the oboe).

Christie Locke was due to join us from London, but sadly, due to bad weather, her flight from Heathrow was cancelled. She made it only the next day and unfortunately could not join us at the gala dinner. Christie is also a Specialist Anaesthetist. A common theme.

Shaahid Valley travelled from London, he works at Kingston Hospital and breaking from the mould, he is a specialist physician!!

It was so fantastic to have the support of classmates from far and wide. Thank you to all those who travelled so far!

And from within our borders...

Ryan Bond and his wife Debbie travelled from Zululand, where he works at Ngwelezane Hospital, heading up the Orthopaedics department. Baby number two is on the way.

Julia Ambler travelled from Durban, with her partner Tracy Brand. Julia has just won the Lead SA "Hero of the Year" Award for her work with the Umduduzi Hospice - providing hospice care for sick children.

Tammy Naidu, Sarah Salmon, Sue Ford and Leisel Herselman also made the trip from Durbs, all four looking gorgeous and not a day older. It must be the KwaZulu-Natal sea air!

Another specialist anaesthetist Vaughn Moses and his wife (also an anesthetist) joined us from KwaZulu Natal where they both work at the Port Shepstone Regional Hospital. I won't say that that the sea air is doing anything for Vaughn's beauty, but it is doing wonders for his youth, as he hasn't aged a bit either. I was so pleased that he came, and that he had submitted to the reunion yearbook! I teased him about it on the evening of the cocktail function, as he was one of the four ?Missing in Action' people from the original yearbook that Michelle Bowman (Froom) and I, as editors, had not managed to track down in the final days of 1998.

Jean Railton travelled from Mpumulanga with her husband Claudio. Jean is now practicing Integrative Medicine after completing her homeopathy studies. They live on their wonderful farm growing blueberries, avocados and kiwi fruit.

Cleve McIntosh and his wife Belinda Rogers (from the Class of 1997) travelled from the Kruger Park area where Cleve runs a homeopathic practice. Cleve is just the same, he is passionate about the practice of homeopathy, mountain biking and running. It was lovely to see all the same smiling faces again.

Bruce Strover joined us from East London, another anaesthetist. Bruce is absolutely unchanged, and he had us all in stitches both evenings. It would not have been the same without you Strover, thanks for making the trip from the Eastern Cape.

The gala dinner was held at Smuts Hall on the Saturday 23 November. It was strange and yet familiar being on upper campus again. We started off with a class photo, it was a bit like herding cats to get everyone outside, but thanks to Mark Hewat's voice lilting over the microphone "Can I have your attention please ..." (something I'm sure he has been waiting to say to us again), we eventually made it outside. You will see, by the photo that we're all pretty much the same give or take some missing hairs, or additional grey ones, or facial ones!

Professor Graham Louw was our fabulous guest of honour. He was a natural choice as he was, and still is, a defining presence in any medical students' career. He gave a wonderful speech reminiscing about his antics over the years. He enlightened us on how the undergraduate degree has changed so much, and how excited they are as academics to be part of the change. He also went through all our years at medical school highlighting the landmark events over the years spanning 1992 - 1998. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane.

On Sunday 24th November, several intrepid runners braved the Life Healthcare Medical 10, a 10km annual race organised by one of the retired surgeons, Dr Sid Cullis. Mark Hewat, Tamlyn McKeag, Leisel Herselman, Sue Ford, Rose Mulder, Mike Mulder and Prashant Jeram headed out at 7am on that hot Sunday morning, after the gala dinner... most impressive!! Even more impressive was bumping into Prof JP van Niekerk twice in one weekend, he had also run the race, and he says he does it every year!

Later on Sunday morning there was gathering of families at Kirstenbosch for a picnic and some tadpole catching next to the stream. It was so nice to meet people's children, and a lovely way to end off the weekend. We even had a surprise visit from Martine David who had been unable to make the rest of the weekend's activities.

With celebration and reminiscing there is always some sadness. We have lost two of our classmates since graduation. Jeanette Myeni passed away in November 2006, aged 31, following a short battle with an aggressive astrocytoma. She was a practicing emergency medicine and family physician in Manitoba, Canada. Edward Mathebula died traumatically, following a shooting during an invasion of his home in Soweto, in March 2009. He was a physician at Baragwanath Hospital. He is survived by two young daughters. In addition, Ayanda Gcelu's mom passed away suddenly in the week leading up to the reunion. Several of her friends from medical school made the trip to the funeral on Saturday 23rd November, which meant we did not get to catch up at the reunion. To Ayanda, our sympathies at this difficult time, and to Pelisa Ford, Ntuthu Thomas, Nommso Stubbs and Pinkie (Nombini) Zozi who supported Ayanda at the funeral - we will catch up at the 25-year reunion. You were ALL missed.

But let's end on a happy note, thank you to all who attended the reunion. For those who could not make it, why don't you have a look at the electronic reunion yearbook, and take a trip down amnesia lane yourselves. We had a great response in terms of this yearbook, and Joan says it is the thickest reunion yearbook she has ever published! Thanks for all your contributions. See you in 2023 for the 25-year reunion!