Rhubarb 2019

ST EDWARD’S r h u b a r b


was the regional advisor for cardiothoracic surgery for the Royal College of Surgeons from 2002 to 2012. Dr Pillai had a special fondness for the people and the land of his birth. He trained five cardiothoracic surgeons from Sri Lanka including myself, all of whom returned home to serve Sri Lanka. He was also instrumental in helping other Sri Lankan postgraduate trainees in other specialties to obtain placements in Oxford. While in Oxford, Dr Pillai led several teams (some of which he funded himself) to perform complex adult and paediatric heart surgeries at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital. He performed the first ever homograft (human heart valve) implants in Sri Lanka and as these valves were not available in Sri Lanka, he brought them from the Oxford Heart Valve Bank. Dr Pillai gave many invited lectures at the annual scientific sessions of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Heart Association and the Jaffna Clinical Society. For his services to the field of cardiothoracic services in Sri Lanka, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka. Following his retirement from the NHS, he returned to Sri Lanka to help set up cardiothoracic services in Jaffna. He set up the non-profit Oxonian Heart Foundation (www.oxonianhf.com) for this purpose. His tireless endeavour paid off when heart surgery was restarted in Jaffna after a lapse of 28 years and he performed the first heart operation in the Northern Central Hospital. Dr Pillai performed the first ever CABG and valve replacement operations ever done in Jaffna.

1975-9. Major (Retired) 1979. Defence equipment advisor The Crown Agents 1979-82. Assistant Military Advisor International Military Services 1982-8. POWNEY – On 22nd February 2017, John Powney (A, 1943-1945). This piece appeared in the Racing Post : Former trainer and popular Newmarket figure, John Powney died at his home on the Bury Road. He was 87. Powney, who was the son of trainer Hugh, was steeped in racing and embraced all aspects of it, most recently when becoming a stalwart at the National Horseracing Museum. Before that, Powney is best known for a spell as private trainer to David Robinson at Newmarket’s Clarehaven Stables in the 1970s. In later life he moved over to stud work and became a stud manager and a part-time clerk of the scales. His widow Ena said: ‘John hadn’t been very well for the last couple of years and had been in and out of hospital but his wish was that he wanted to die here at Shalfleet Cottage. He served his time at Stanley House and eventually trained out of his father’s yard at Saville House. After “retirement” he worked for Tattersalls and the National Horseracing Museum for many years. He always said he’d had a wonderful life.’ Powney was friendly with trainer Don Cantillon in later years and he recalled: ‘John was an absolute gentleman and a good judge and I often used to see him down at the paper shop. He only lived two feet from the horsewalk on the Bury Road and when we were passing by one day I asked him to come out and look at the horses. He said that he loved Hollywood Road the most and that was before he’d even run and now he’s one of the best in the yard.’

REDFERN – On 27th July 2017, Charles Roger Redfern (A, 1949-1953). Brother of Michael (F, 1939-1943). Royal Marines 1953-5. Sales executive Esso Petroleum. ROBERTS – On 7th July 2017, Martin Mather Roberts (C, 1957-1961). Probation Officer New ROBINSON – On 3rd June 2018, Michael Edward Robinson (F, 1951-1956). This piece was kindly sent to us by Michael’s daughter, Helen, and is taken from the tribute which she and her brother Charles gave at Michael’s funeral: Larger than life, but not in stature, a hunt follower once said upon seeing Mike off his horse for the first time, ‘Oh, I thought you were tall!’ Born in Leverstock, Hertfordshire to parents Reg and Eileen in July 1937, Mike was the beloved only child until his sister Sheila came along eight years later. He went to school at Swanbourne House, followed by St Edward’s where he was Head of Tilly’s in 1956. He then went to Guy’s Hospital to train as a dentist. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with TB after years of ill health and spent many months in Harefield Hospital. He kept himself busy by making leather handbags and even bought his first car from his hospital bed, having never seen it! He finally left, minus a kidney, and continued with his studies, graduating in 1963. He holidayed with his family in Porlock, Somerset, for many years, first coming down to stay in 1952. After years of happy holidays he decided to move down permanently in 1973, having found a dental practice in Minehead to partner in. He settled into Exmoor life easily, firstly at the practice with Sheila Zealand Department of Corrections 1975-2011.


Ravi Gnanasundram Perumal Pillai

He also worked tirelessly to re-establish the government heart surgery unit, which had closed in 1986. Due to his efforts, the cardiothoracic unit of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital was re-opened in December 2017. He taught undergraduate students at the Medical Faculty of Jaffna and trained doctors in the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Ravi and his wife Shanti were close personal friends of both my wife and myself during the three happy years we spent at Oxford as well as in subsequent years. Both Ravi and Shanti welcomed us to their family and treated us as younger siblings. We will always have fond memories of times spent with this wonderful man. Dr Ravi Pillai leaves behind his wife Dr Shanti Jayewardene, an architectural historian, and his two children, Rajesh and Shahila. He will be sorely missed by the cardiac surgery fraternity as well as by his numerous friends in Sri Lanka and the UK. PLUMMER – On 24th November 2018, John Deane Plummer (F, 1941 1946). Trinity College Oxford 1946-9 MA. Army Royal Signals 1949. Tech Staff College 1961-2. MIEE Royal Aircraft Establishment 1968-70. Royal Armament Research & Development Establishment

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