Reeling in the years at RCPCH

Dr Kevin Windebank is a Retired Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist from Newcastle upon Tyne and is the College's Representative for Senior Members. In his blog, he recalls the many volunteer roles he's held within the College and how much he's enjoyed being able to contribute to child health while making friends along at the way.
Dr Kevin Windebank
Dr Kevin Windebank

One of my favourite recollections of our College is from my time as a registrar in the early 80's. My consultant insisted I accompany him to the BPA in York. "You'll learn a lot, but more importantly you'll get to meet a lot of people - especially in the bar"... and we did, rubbing shoulders with those whose names I knew only from textbooks. It was the first time I identified myself as being a paediatrician rather than a physician. It was the beginning of many friendships subsequently refreshed on an annual basis.

Over the following years as I watched our identity developing, the cynics gradually retreated and finally in 1996 the College of Paediatrics and Child Health was born. Initially, I wasn't too sure about including 'Child Health', but our founding fathers clearly had the right vision. The first meeting in York had us bussed to the Minster for a moving dedication service followed by a dinner at York Racecourse culminating in a spectacular firework display. It was a momentous occasion and a giant step forward for UK paediatrics.

As we wrested our exams from the physicians we began looking at ways to adapt our assessment of paediatric clinical skills. Being an examiner scarred by many attempts to pass the clinical, I was at the front of the queue to become part of the wider team working in this area. I became a scriptwriter for communication skills stations and after a few years ran the subgroup. Much to my astonishment in 2010 I found myself in the post of Officer for Examinations.

Working for the College was a fantastic experience and I would encourage everyone to keep an eye on the many opportunities that come along and consider new ways you can contribute to children's health.

I was in charge of the system that had made my life a misery and stalled my career for two years. Fortunately, things across the board had been steadily changing and we were able to continue the move to preparing candidates properly and using more representative clinical encounters. During my five years I met and worked with outstanding colleagues and staff, both nationally and internationally. Working for the College is a fantastic experience and I would encourage everyone to keep an eye on the many opportunities that come along and consider new ways you can contribute to children's health.

For the last four years I have had the honour of representing Senior Fellows and Members on College Council. Some 800 retirees continue to be members and we are continually looking to find ways of contributing to College life and child health. Many are retiring at a relatively young age and the College is keen not to lose this wealth of expertise and experience. It is not proving easy but we are working on improving the RCPCH Chat discussion group for Seniors and are embarking on a series of open Zoom meetings.

I see a vibrant, listening, well led, membership responsive organisation that's absolutely committed to making the world a better place for children.

Over the last ten years on Council I have had the unique privilege of being in the thick of the debates at the highest level as our College continues to redefine itself. What do I see around me on our 25th Birthday? I see a vibrant, listening, well led, membership responsive organisation that's absolutely committed to making the world a better place for children. Whilst we are not a perfect organisation and still have a lot of improvements to make, we should not be afraid to give ourselves a bit of a pat on the back as we celebrate our 25th birthday!


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