Originally titled The Society for Relief of Widows and Orphans of Medical Men was founded in 1788 in the Grays Inn Coffee House. At that time there were no state benefits and really only the poor-house awaited those who had been left destitute. It was then only for medical men living in London and its immediate vicinity. It wasn’t until 1964 that the by-law was altered so as to permit doctors resident within 60 miles of Charing Cross to become members.

The original fund was started in 1788 by the seven founder members contributing three guineas each and they appear to have had four treasurers at that time to look after these funds! They certainly did a good job as by 1805 the membership had grown to 300 and the fund to £13,300.


The membership numbers fluctuated, reaching a peak in 1870 of 454. However, the funds subscribed over the last two centuries have been carefully invested by the trustees to ensure a good annual income that can be deployed to assist beneficiaries. In the early part of the twentieth century it seems that the widows of one in five or one in six members were applying for assistance! Many doctors just looked upon membership of the Society as the provision they made for their families after their demise. Nowadays we would like to think that doctors also join the Society in order to assist their less fortunate colleagues.

The Society has therefore been in existence for well over two hundred years, for the bulk of that time making grants only to the widows and families of its members. However with the advent of state benefits, and the members making better provision privately for their families, the call on the Society’s funds by the members reduced. At the end of the 1980’s changes were made which enabled the Society to assist those medical families in need who had not been members.

Nowadays membership is open to doctors living in any part of the British Isles. In 1983 the Society became “politically correct” and women members were admitted and now there are many women members and also women members of the Court of Directors.


After many years of operation, the decision was made to change the name of the Society to reflect the role we now play in our sector. The Society will now endeavor to leverage social media to enhance our traditional reaching out via word of mouth and referrals from other charities. Our aim is to broaden both the recruitment of new members as well as announcing our presence to a wider audience to those in need of our help.

Life President:  Dr Roy N Palmer LLB MB BS FFFLM
President: Dr Priya Singh MB ChB MRCGP

Vice Presidents – There are currently five of these.
Treasurer who has overall responsibility for the Society’s financial well being
Directors – making the total Court up to usually about 16 in number.
Secretary – responsible for the day to day affairs of the Society, letters, membership, recruitment, subscriptions, bookkeeping, writing and sending cheques, presenting cases, filing, agendas , minutes, etc.
Mr J P S England MB BS FRCS
Mr Simon D W Payne MB BS FRCS
Mr Frank A W Schweitzer MS FRC

Treasurer  Mr Geoff E Rose MS MRCP FRCS FRCOphth

Dr David North-Coombs MB BS DRCOG MRCGP
Dr David Buckle MB BS MRCGP
Dr David Stewart MB BS MFFLM
Dr Stewart M Kilpatrick MB BCh FFARCS
Dr Cyril Nemeth MRCGP
Mr A B Richards MChir FRCS
Dr Rohit Malliwal MB, BS

Secretary & Executive Officer Mrs Lotte Farrar


The Court meets four times a year – February, May, August and November, to conduct its business.

Any new applications for membership are considered at these meetings and application for membership needs to be proposed and seconded and must state that he or she is in good health. Any doctor who has a GMC recognised qualification and has lived in the UK for ten years or more is eligible for membership. Membership currently stands at about 200. Any new requests for assistance are considered and decisions made on Xmas, Easter or Michaelmas Gifts depending on the time of year.
Currently the Society has a particular interest in helping medical students who are themselves the sons or daughters of doctors. Naturally it is hoped that they may themselves become members in due course and ensure the future of the Society.


The order for eligibility for assistance is as follows:-

  • Dependants of deceased members
  • Members themselves
  • Their dependants
  • Medical practitioners, who haven’t been members of the Society and their dependants. The overriding consideration is whether any applicant is necessitous.

As any available funds should be used in that order, there is a distinct advantage to being a member, in that a member and his or her dependants will always have first call on the funds. It is for this reason that it is difficult for us to commit to any long-term help for those outside the Society. At present there is a excess of income over expenditure but this position has not always been so. However while this position prevails, we are also able to help those who have not been members and also their families.

It should be noted that all awards are discretionary.

Wherever possible either the Secretary or a Member of the Court of Directors will visit or meet the applicants.