Posted by: medicblog999 | January 29, 2009

Mr Featonby

Tom Reynolds over at Random Acts of reality has recently asked his readers about their favourite teachers and how they changed their lives.
I thought I would share my thoughts on a man that started me on my path to health care way back in 1984.
trepanationI had always been a mischievous child at school, I was never really naughty, more just getting into little bits of bother and being a little disruptive. I got on ok at school and enjoyed most of it but never really excelled at anything until I started “Medicine through the ages” with my history teacher Mr Featonby. I can still remember the first lesson where he told us all about trephinning ( or burr holes in the skull ) way back in the midst’s of time. We then worked right the way up to modern times covering everything from Hippocrates, Alexandria, Lister, war medicine and too much more to remember. For the first time in my school life I started to look forward to a lesson and shortly after the topic started I got a 94% in a test. The match had been lit and there was no stopping me now!
During my final year, Mr Featonby was diagnosed with cancer. He never missed a lesson and when he lost his hair he just put on his wig and carried on. Of course, boys being boys we all called him names behind his back but this made me feel really bad and I ended getting into a couple of fights when I told others to stop calling him. I finished school with a paltry 3 GCSEs (maths ‘C’, biology ‘C’ and History ‘A’).
I left school half way through the sixth form and managed to get a place on a nurse training course after passing an entrance exam.
During my first year of nurse training, we were studying childhood to adolescence. We had to organize a placement for three days to observe various aspects of adolescent development so I thought it would be interesting to go back to my comprehensive school. I sat in a few classes, spoke to a careers class about nurse training and generally had a great, but surreal time! It was so weird sitting in the staff room with the teachers!
On the second day I bumped into Mr Featonby whilst I was leaving the staffroom. I asked if I could have a quick chat with him:
” I just want you to know how you’ve changed my life. Everything that I am doing now is completely down to you and how you taught me. You were always really strict, but I didn’t mind that because I really wanted to learn from you. Medicine through the ages made me choose to go into healthcare and I am really enjoying my training and in two years I will be a registered nurse. I just wanted you to know that it is all because of you. Thank you!”
He just stood still for about 5 seconds then started to cry. He gave me a hug and told me how much it meant to him to hear that.
What I didn’t know at the time and didn’t find out until about a year later was that when we spoke, his cancer had come back and he was terminally ill.
I think about him often, I hope he is proud of what he helped me achieve. Every patient I have helped, the lives I have saved and the many more to come are all because of Mr Featonby.


  1. Touching 🙂

  2. I had a teacher like that once. He died of a Heart Attack suddenly in school one day about 5 years after I left. He made me want to be a teacher so I could be just like him. I wish I could have told him that. I’m glad you got the chance.

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