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Honorary Graduate's Speech: Mrs Hazel Thornton, Doctor of Science (DSc)

Mrs Thornton is an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Leicester. She is also Founding Chairman, Consumers' Advisory Group for Clinical Trials. Mrs Thornton received her honorary degree on Wednesday, July 10 at the morning degree ceremony for her contribution to medicine and patient care. After the degree ceremony oration, she gave the following response.

Mr Vice Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased and proud to accept this honour from the University of Leicester - not only because it is a very great privilege to have been recognised in this way but also because it solemnises a fruitful relationship with colleagues in the Medical School here in Leicester.

It also provides me with a benchmark at the end of a decade of activity in this field.  It is illuminating to have had my contribution assessed by others for me; it has been an unplanned, exciting and sometimes very challenging pilgrimage over a wide field to the wicket gate towards the shining light.

A journey towards the uncertain and unknown, where, like John Bunyan's Christian in Pilgrims Progress, I could not bear to put aside what had involved me. Like Bunyan's Christian I have met a variety of fellow travellers along their way - many of whom have gone out of their way to guide and lend a helping hand to a traveller in the midst.

In return, as a somewhat late developer student, I have observed and commented, hoping that dialogues might help towards building a better route for citizens and travellers ...

In my first international presentation in Bruges in 1994, I advocated that medical training should concentrate on developing students' powers of observation and reasoning because, as Sir Peter Medawar states in his book Pluto’s Republic when discussing intuition in inductive thought processes “observation is the generative act in scientific discovery”.

I believe that the shining idealism of young recruits to a caring profession labouring for humanitarian needs must be nurtured not neglected. We must ensure that we educate them in such a way that their ethical sensitivity and their ability to assess quality of evidence is enhanced and encouraged during the course of their training therefore avoiding any tendency towards creating a culture of compliance rather than a culture of conscience.

I firmly believe that patients can contribute practically to this idea.

July 2002

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Last updated: 19 July 2002 17:00
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