By Sandy Saunders : On 20th July 2016 it will be the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the ‘Guinea Pig Club’, a unique club formed by badly burned pilots and aircrew in WWII, who had been treated by the pioneering plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.
The Club was formed with a committee and Sir Archibald was its President. The Secretary was a pilot with badly burned fingers, which meant that he was excused from writing any letters or Minutes. The Treasurer was a member whose legs were burned and this ensured that he could not abscond with the funds. Initially the Club was intended to be a drinking club, which would disband at the end of the war. However it grew in strength from year to year and has remained as a club of group support throughout the members’ lives, which has helped them to go on to lead normal, useful lives. By the end of the war there were 649 ‘Guinea Pigs’, 62% British, 20% Canadian, 6% Australians, 6% New Zealanders and 6% from many other countries including the Czech Republic and Poland. They continued to keep in touch several times a year, although as the years have passed, fewer and fewer of them are alive and of those who are, many are unable to travel. At the moment there are 18 ‘Guinea Pigs’ alive in the UK and about 10 overseas.
Although I am 93, I am the most fit and mobile member. A fitting memorial to the Club is to be unveiled in the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, in November of this year. The cost of the memorial will be £20,000+ VAT and I have set myself the task of raising as much money as I can towards this project.
The link for the funding page is https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sandyandmaggie-saunders
Please help me if you can. Any donations, how ever small, will be gratefully received.
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