A highlight of the AGM was the unanimous vote to make Caroline Richmond, a long-standing member of the MJA, an honorary member. This is an occasional accolade awarded, for services to the MJA or for the recipient’s ‘distinction in the fields of journalism or healthcare’, which can only be conferred by vote at an AGM.
Caroline was nominated by vice-chair Jane Symons who explained how she came to know Caroline in a pastoral role, after she alerted the committee that another member was in need of support. She describes Caroline as a compassionate and feisty journalist who, with typical candour, now acknowledges that she is approaching death (for more, follow Caroline on X).
The nomination was seconded by John Illman — who explains here why Caroline is such a worthy recipient:
Caroline Richmond is a founder member of the HealthWatch charity and her fearless and sometimes outspoken journalism.
HealthWatch (now HealthSense and originally The Campaign against Health Fraud) ) was formed by 1988 to oppose ineffective alternative treatments. Other co-founders included broadcaster Nick Ross, pathologist Professor Vincent Marks and cancer surgeon Michael Baum.
Baum feared for women whose breast cancer had disintegrated into suppurating sores because they’d shunned conventional treatment for ineffective alternative ones
Now retired and poorly with multiple conditions, Caroline, a witty, elegant, stylish writer was European corespondent and a contributing writer to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). She also wrote memorable pieces for The Spectator and was co-author with Vincent Marks of The Insulin Murders.She was perhaps best known as an obituarist.
She wrote unflinchingly in the BMJ that the late Dr David Horrobin, passionate promoter of evening primrose oil, “may prove to be the greatest snake oil salesman of his age.” Angry responses by BMJ readers generated an 86 page print-out, but the then editor, Dr Richard Smith, robustly defended Richmond.
Reporting in the CMAJ, Dr Naomi Marks quoted Smith as saying: “Medicine has a culture of not speaking ill of the dead. What quite a lot of our readers want is what I call glorified death notices, but we want serious journalistic pieces that tell stories and make a judgement on a character. We want more light and shade.”
Watch as Jane and John explain why Caroline is such a worthy recipient of honorary membership: