Fellow Fortisans, you may well be aware that the older boys at KC, most times unknown to themselves, almost always have an influence on the younger boys at school – most times in a very positive way.
I can think of so many that had a positive influence on me in my younger years at the College: in the choir, cadet corps, sports and normal school life (if I begin to call names space would not allow). And – as I came to learn subsequent to leaving the College – I also had a positive effect on some of the youngsters in the years below me.
Such is the nature of things – when living the experience, few if any of the senior KC boys realize the great motivating effect they are having on the youngsters looking up to them.
I attribute Mr. Edgar Gallimore with ‘why I became a doctor.’ In fact, when I saw him for the first time subsequently some 20 years later and informed him of this reality, he was surprised (and humbled) by that reality. You see, when Ed Gallimore completed his years at KC, he returned to work for a couple of years as the school’s librarian. At that time, I was in ‘third form’ and my group of friends in 3A - Bloomy (who later went on to captain our Track Team and win a track scholarship to the USA), Blakey (current President of the JAAA), ‘Chicken’ (a family physician working in Broward county for the last decade and a half), Ingram (younger brother of the famous KC basketballer ‘Zulu’), and others – would gather after school ended at 3 pm under the trees in front of the staff room, and chat, joke, play ‘money football’ on the benches, while we watched our classmate ‘Mikey’ practice jumping the bar (he was class 4 champion) of the high jump on the adjoining playing field (yes – at the time, we did not know he was following his father on Saturdays to bowl a cricket ball at the Melbourne cricket club).
One afternoon Mr. Gallimore came out of the library unto the balcony, looked around the horizon and saw us idling, came downstairs and walked all the way from the library building over to us under the tree by the staff room. To cut a long story short – he said “instead of idling your time away each evening under this tree, why don’t you boys do something constructive and come up to the library and do some reading?”
In those days you couldn’t say ‘no’ to a teacher, so we followed him upstairs to the library. The room was deserted! It was 3:15 pm, but not one KC boy was in it! Well, we started to walk down the aisle to see what books – if any – would interest us. Mid-way down the front wall, I saw this book on the top shelf. A huge book (it had over 3,000 pages) – it was entitled “The Human Body” and had a diagram of the human body with labels all over it on the front page. (Looking back in hindsight – I realized it must have been a ‘reference’ book.) It looked interesting. I took it down and opened it out on the adjoining table. I pulled up a chair and began reading. I read and read. The more I read, the more the book held my attention. It was fascinating!
When Mr. Gallimore announced the library closed at 4 pm, we all left, but I was back the next afternoon – to pick up where I had left off. Every evening, I went back to continue reading this book. I eventually read every page in that book of over 3,000 pages! Long before I finished reading this book, I knew I want to become a doctor!
I didn’t know what it would take to get me there, but I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life! No other occupation, profession, or career interested me subsequently – I was steadfast through 4th and 5th forms and after GCE ‘O’ levels, while Blake (the Math’s brain), ‘Chicken’ and Wilko were contemplating what subjects to do in 6th form (we all passed more than 7 subjects), I just needed to know what subjects I needed to do to get into medicine at UWI. We all ended up doing – Math, Phys, Chem, Zoo – with Mr. Maxwell teaching us GP. The rest- as they say- is history!
When I next met Mr. Gallimore – I could now say ‘Ed.’ I was then a doctor for several years (living and working in Ocho Rios), and I was at a function with my wife Maureen who had worked with Ed in the Tourism industry in Kingston several years before then, knew his doting daughters, etc. I was surprized that Ed remembered me, and when I told him that ‘he’ was the reason I became a doctor, he at first thought I was joking. When I explained the background context – he then looked astonished and said he felt humbled. We were in occasional contact since then, but my wife saw him more often as she still worked in the hospitality industry in Kingston.
Yes, Fortisans, we all have stories like this to tell. Hopefully we all make, and continue to make positive contributions to the lives of the young people around us as mentors to the young men in our communities and thereby influencing their lives in many positive ways! Let us make a purposeful resolution to do – and continue doing!
Derrick Aarons JP, MB.BS.(UWI), M.Sc.(Bioethics)(McGill), PhD
Consultant Bioethicist/Palliative Care & Family Physician
Past President - The Bioethics Society of the English-speaking Caribbean
Member - The Executive Council of RedBioetica UNESCO
Member - The Editorial Board, Developing World Bioethics Journal