The annual memorial service to remember the people who bequeathed their bodies to the School of Medicine, for the advancement of anatomical education and research, took place virtually today, the 28th of April. The service, which normally occurs every April, had to be cancelled last year as a result of COVID-19. The chaplaincy together with the School of Medicine’s Bequest and Anatomy teams worked hard in order for the memorial service to take place in a virtual format.
This years’ service was filmed in advance and shared online, making it accessible to the families of the deceased and students all around the world. It began with a beautiful view of St Salvator’s Chapel at the University and an opening address from Revd Dr Donald MacEwan. He said that although it was not possible to gather in person this year, he hoped that it could offer “space and time to remember, to say farewell, to acknowledge the generosity of the gift and to take hope for the future”.
The service, which was 45 minutes long, featured beautiful music led by Claire Innes-Hopkins, Director of Chapel Music, Campbell Watterson Organ Scholars, and members of St Salvator’s Chapel Choir. Viewers enjoyed a moving sermon from Dr Clare Masters, a former palliative care doctor and Reader, akin to a layperson priest at the Church of England. Dr Masters, who won sermon of the year in 2019, remembered her own days studying anatomy at the University of Bristol fondly and how body donors contributed so much to learning. She acknowledged that behind the body donors were real people, who had left family members and loved ones behind. Prayers were led by Revd Samantha Ferguson, Assistant Chaplain and readings by Professor Gerald Humphris, School of Medicine and Cait Murphy, Bute Medical Society President.
New to the service this year was a number of contributions from medical students, about the significance of body donations for medical teaching and research. Thanksgiving was heard across all medicine year groups, stating that the time spent in the dissection room consolidated learning and helped them to become better doctors. Body donation was described as a selfless gift that provided doctors-to-be with their first patients.
The service, which is open to all, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrqKL2EHMiA