The town of Ashford lies between Staines in Middlesex and London Heathrow Airport. Many of the patients treated there work at the airport or for the airlines.
Bronze Age artefacts have been found in Ashford, giving rise to the name Bronzefield and a henge may have been present in that period. Ashford appears on the Middlesex Domesday map as Exeforde, held by Robert, Count of Mortain. Its Domesday assets were: 1 plough, meadow for 1 plough; a separate manor in 1066, it was part of the manor of Kempton in 1086. Throughout the early medieval period the place was also referred to as Echelford.
In 2006 we stayed in Weybridge for our first visit to Ashford, Middlesex, where our joint hosts were Joe (and Pamela) Horner and Brian (and Loveday) Ellis. Brian has since taken on the role of Assistant Archivist, recording photographically the activities of our Society which on this visit included a tour of the historic Brooklands racetrack and Air Museum, with supper upstairs in the Bluebird room. Ashford is close to Heathrow, and the Airport was the subject of several presentations including in-flight medical care, the new terminal 5, drug running, and air accident investigations. We also had a talk from the Hospital Trust’s Chief Executive Glenn Douglas. On the Saturday there was a guided tour of the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley, followed as usual by lunch.
The eclectic programme covered topics of universal interest (thoracic endoscopic sympathectomy, sclerotherapy of veins, procto-colectomy, breast reconstruction, thyroid and bariatric surgery, aortic and urinary stenting) then others on aviation medicine, reflecting the proximity of Heathrow Airport. The topics (drug smuggling, Terminal Five, air accidents, the new control tower and in-flight emergencies) held the audience spell-bound, if a little nervous of future air travel. The Friday dinner at Great Fosters, a former hunting lodge of Henry VIII – at which the guest speaker was Norman Willis (the former General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union) – rounded off an exceptional day, which concluded with the transfer of the Presidency to David Ralphs from Geoffrey Glazer, who has given so much to the TSS in so many roles that he has come to embody much of what it stands for: vision, friendship and even international standing. At the Business Meeting the next morning Dimitri Hadjiminas was welcomed as a new TSS member. Following the Ashford meeting, co-host Brian Ellis created the well-catalogued TSS photographic archive, for viewing by the TSS membership. Truly have we entered the digital age.
The image above is of Ashford Hospital (Left) and Map showing proximity of the hospital to London Heathrow Airport (right)