This week’s Fantastic Find for Friday is in honour of the news that Professor Lesley Regan, Vice-President for Strategic Development at the RCOG has received an Honorary Fellowship from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Professor Regan is not the first among the RCOG‘s Officers to receive such an award, although she is the first female among College representatives! My research has found only one other female from the UK has received this Honorary Fellowship, and that was Gwyneth Lewis in 2010. Sir Hector MacLennan, as RCOG President, received the first Honorary Fellowship issued by ACOG in May 1964, and we look below at another recipient, Sir Norman Jeffcoate, who was President of the RCOG between 1969 and 1972.
In May 1972 Sir Norman Jeffcoate was invited to the Honorary Fellowship of ACOG, and was enthusiastic in his response, despite clearly having a very hectic year! The letters in his presidential file found in the College Archive demonstrate the complexity of arrangements required to accommodate the College President’s role as ambassador overseas, as central figure in the administration of the College in London, as practitioner, and often as a father with a busy home-life. Josephine, the wife of Sir Norman, obviously had to be firm about not allowing herself to be dragged to Chicago after having spent a month in South Africa with her husband. Sir Norman’s response to receiving the Honorary Fellowship was full of enthusiasm, and on reaching home after his whistle-stop visit to Chicago, he wrote:
‘I am still overwhelmed by receiving the great honour of honorary fellowship of the American College and I hope you will convey to all those concerned my deep gratitude. I will always do my best to help the American College in every way that I can.’
There is much discussion in this correspondence file about the formation of a group of RCOG Members and Fellows residing in the US, as well as evidence of the good relations between Sir Norman and Clyde Randall, President of ACOG and RCOG Fellow ad Eundem. Indeed, the good standing of professional connections between obstetricians and gynaecologists in the UK and the US dates back way beyond 1951, the date of the foundation of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Founder of the RCOG, Professor William Blair-Bell, took a trip to Philadelphia in 1925 at the invitation of his US counterparts, and there is much evidence of frequent communications between the two countries on shared issues. Sir Norman himself visited the US in 1952 with Josephine, and there are some wonderful mementoes in the form of scrapbooks, postcards and photographs of this visit held in the papers of Sir Norman Jeffcoate which can be found in the RCOG Archive. All of this give me an excuse to include this wonderful of photograph of Norman Jeffcoate with Josephine, taken in 1956 and found among his personal papers at the RCOG.