Originally titled The Society for Relief of Widows and Orphans of Medical Men was founded in 1788 in the Gray’s 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 men (there being no medical women at the time!) 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 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 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 the wider profession.

Nowadays membership is open to all doctors living in any part of the British Isles.


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. 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.

President: Dr David Buckle
President Emeritus: Dr Roy N Palmer
Treasurer: Prof Geoff Rose
Vice Presidents:-
Dr Celia Palmer
Dr John Barker
Prof Simon Payne

Dr Stewart Kilpatrick
Mr Tony Richards
Dr Rohit Malliwal
Dr Stephanie Bown
Dr David Stewart
Dr Lydia Acquah
Dr Rajeev Dhar

Executive Director: Dr Priya Singh

President: Dr David Buckle FRCGP
David worked as a GP in Woodley Berkshire for 30 years. In 1995 he was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He later became senior partner and was a GP trainer for many years. In 2000 he joined the local PCT Board and that decision started a long career of clinical leadership and then medical management.
Having been a medical director for a PCT, CSU and a CCG, David recently choose to retire from his clinical and executive roles to concentrate on his Non-executive and trustee interests. Primary and Community care are his areas of clinical interest and he continues this work as a non-executive for Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.
David has been a member of SAMF for nearly 30 years and last year he became a director of the court. He was delighted to become president in May 2018.


President Emeritus: Dr Roy N Palmer LLB MB BS FFFLM
Roy Palmer qualified at the London Hospital Medical College, where he met and married Celia. After junior hospital appointments he entered general practice. With no interest in or aptitude for sport, he instead read law as a hobby. Having acquired a law degree and later the bar examinations he joined the staff of the Medical Protection Society (MPS), which he served for 27 years. There he met the Secretary of SAMF’s predecessor, Dr Jack Leahy Taylor and was encouraged to join “the Widows and Orphans”.

Roy succeeded Jack as Secretary of the charity for several years and later as President, in which role he served for 17 years before finding a brilliant successor! He was honoured to be made President Emeritus in recognition of his long service to SAMF. He remains a member of the Court of Assistants.

After his MPS years Roy became a coroner in London, serving as Senior Coroner in South London from 2001 to 2014 when he stepped down so as to enjoy his year as the Master Apothecary in 2015-2016. He remains an Assistant Coroner in the City of London, a role he has held since 2002.

Hobbies include classical music and opera, theatre and travel – and grandfather to 2 boy

Treasurer: Prof Geoff Rose
Bio to follow






Dr Celia Palmer (née Mountford) qualified from the London Hospital Medical College, where she met and married Roy. After junior hospital appointments, including a spell as an anaesthetist, she became an Assistant County Medical Officer of Health in Essex, during which time she produced 2 daughters. With a long interest in occupational and industrial disease she entered the specialty as Medical Officer to Harlow Industrial Health Service, acquiring the AFOM. Her career in occupational medicine continued for the rest of her long career with a succession of appointments in both the public and the private sectors.

She retired in 2014 and enjoyed her year as the Mistress Apothecary. She and one other lady were the first women to be admitted to membership of “The Widows and Orphans”, SAMF’s predecessor and Celia was the first woman to be elected to serve on the Court, a role that she still continues to enjoy. She shares with Roy the enjoyment of 2 grandsons and regular attendances at classical music events and opera.

Dr John Barker
John is approaching his final years with sanguinity. An East London child of the Thirties he recalls the blitz if a little hazily. Luckily avoiding the bombs, he remembers running to his primary school and cycling to his grammar school and thereby acquiring in due course a general certificate of education. Surviving the war, he started work in an Insurance office as a “Junior” and he was then called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force. An attempt to teach him to fly failed but the Tiger Moth is a robust aeroplane and they were easily repaired. The RAF however did teach him to sail.
Guys Hospital Medical School saw something in him that others missed and it spent five years ensuring he qualified to practice medicine less dangerously than most.
An interest in the law provoked Her Majesty’s Coroner for London’s Eastern District to appoint him as his Assistant Deputy. Later that interest led to his joining the Medical Protection Society firstly as a member of its Council and then as a member of its professional Secretariat. It was in the early eighties, that John become a member of the Society for the Relief of Widows and Orphans of Medical Men and later a member of its Court of Directors and a Vice President. After a good number of years and after overseeing one or two quite successful cases he stepped down as deputy Medical Director at MPS only to soldier on as a Consultant. He finally was put out to grass and now lives quietly in Walthamstow neither raising chickens nor keeping bees. He enjoys the pub next door and London’s theatre and music. His favourite colour is purple and his lucky number is forty two.


Prof Simon Payne







Dr Stewart Kilpatrick

I worked at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey for 30 years and my joy on reaching retirement was exceeded only by that of my colleagues. I have been lucky to keep good health and spend time on country walks, playing with old cars and working as a labourer on the Watercress line. My wife Sarah has just retired as a GP and we now able to share the fun of at least the first of the above.
Mercy Ships is a medical charity providing surgical care for the poorest of West Africa. I volunteered with them before retirement and have continued to work with them in non-medical roles.



Mr Tony Richards


Dr Rohit Malliwal BSc. (HONS), MBBS, FRCR
Ro is a Consultant Gastrointestinal and Interventional Radiologist at Barts Health NHS Trust and trained at Barts and The London and King’s College hospitals. His interests are in mentoring, student welfare and financial structures and investments. He has been a Director of the Court with the Society for Assistance of Medical Families since 2010.




Dr Stephanie D Bown
Stephanie Bown practiced as a doctor in the NHS for eleven years before completing a law degree and joining the Medical Protection Society (MPS) working in the field of professional indemnity and risk management for twenty years. She has extensive experience of the legal and professional issues that arise in healthcare gained through supporting doctors as a medico-legal advisor and through working with governments and healthcare organisations on policy issues. Her experience spans case investiga-tion, advocacy, healthcare policy, stakeholder engagement and communication.

Stephanie has been a member of SAMF since joining MPS and became a member of the Court shortly afterwards.

As Director of the National Clinical Assessment Service within the NHS Litigation Au-thority, Stephanie initiated a programme of restructure and modernisation to meet the changing needs of the NHS.

Since May 2015 Stephanie has provided independent consultancy. She has under-taken a wide range of investigations into serious incidents, governance and service reviews in the NHS and private health sectors. She has investigated performance concerns in individual doctors and dysfunctional team dynamics.

She provides independent adjudication to third stage complaints in the independent healthcare sector for ISCAS.

Stephanie is a CEDR accredited mediator and is on the CEDR panel of mediators. She regularly acts as conciliator for the Funeral Arbitration Service and mediates clin-ical negligence claims for NHS Resolution 9formerly NHS Litigation Authority).

As a lay member of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, Stephanie adjudicates upon alleged breaches of the rules and regulations applicable to solicitors and their firms.


Dr David Stewart
David graduated from St Bartholomew’s Medical College in 1976. After completing GP training he was recruited in 1981 as Regimental Medical Officer to The Household Cavalry and commissioned in The Life Guards. He served in both Germany (BAOR) and the UK based in Windsor.

Completing a short service commission in 1986 David returned to the NHS as a GP Principal in practice in Esher, Surrey. After three years he returned to work for the MOD as a Civilian Medical Practitioner, working in Germany (BAOR) for a further 10 years.

In 1999 David joined the Army Medical Directorate at Camberley in the Medicolegal Department as a Medial Officer and then joined Medical Protection in 2002 as a Medicolegal Adviser. He leaves Medical Protection in April 2019 having taken voluntary redundancy.

David readily accepted the invitation of the Chairman of the Court to joint SAMF in 2017 and is looking forward to getting involved in such a worthy charity.

He is married to a doctor and has three children.



Bio to follow






 Lydia Acqah
Lydia is a junior doctor currently training in the South of England. She joined as a trustee in 2019. In addition to her work for SAMF, she is also involved in mentoring and running the junior doctor welfare programme at her hospital.
Her interests include management and improving junior doctor resilience.









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 at these quarterly meetings.
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 the Society is unable to commit to any long-term help for those not in membership. At present there is an excess of income over expenditure but this position has not always been so.

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.