The surgery is named after Dr Donald Bodey (born in Oxford on 03/05/40), who died after falling from a hill on Great Gable on 25th September 1993. It is ironic that in an attempt to save another life, he tragically lost his own, as passionately helping others is what he had based his professional career upon.
He is still revered by his former patients. I have personally never heard anyone, so highly spoken about. Many patients tell me their stories about how ‘marvellous’ Dr Bodey was and how influential he was in their lives. Some claim that his help and support ‘saved their lives’ and that he ‘couldn’t do enough for them’.
It is therefore fitting and appropriate that following his death, the surgery changed its name from Central Surgery to Bodey Medical Centre. A marble plaque, commissioned by his friends and work colleagues after his death, still hangs in pride of place, adorning the entrance hall of our new premises, which we moved to in August 2008.
The Manchester Evening News recently wrote a series of articles about the Moss Side riots that took place in the early 1980s. One of the articles describes Dr Bodey’s role during this time. Please click on the link below to read the article (there is also a link to an article in the New York Times from 1980!)
The article not only reaffirms the verbal feedback I have already received from his former patients about his values and beliefs, but highlights how he took ownership and responsibility when he witnessed the suffering of others, from the alleged police brutality at the time. It also details how he persevered in fighting their cause, even when he and his family were faced with threatening and intimidating behaviour as a result themselves.
‘Dr Donald Bodey (1951-58) died in September 1993 following a walking accident in the Lake District. He went to Christ Church Oxford before qualifying at Oxford Medical School. He joined a medical practice in Moss Side in 1967. He was involved from the start in the Hideaway Youth Project, a centre mainly for the black youth of Moss Side, and served as its Chairman for more than 17 years.
During the Moss Side riots of 1981, when many of the victims of the violence were his own patients, his drawing room became virtually a casualty ward for the wounded. He spoke out publicly about the extent of police brutality against black youth for which he had to endure death threats and a deluge of hate mail. Don Bodey was an undogmatic Christian. Always ecumenical, he was a leading figure in the United Peoples’ Church in Moss Side. He founded and was Chairman of the Campaign Against Poverty. He loved music, theatre and opera, but led an ostentatious life. He left a wife, Carol Arthurs, and three children (Sara, Ruth and Daniel).’
Obituary from BMJ (Volume 308, 08/01/94)
Don Bodey initially intended to follow a career in paediatrics but became disillusioned with hospital life. A letter from a friend asked if he knew of a doctor who would be interested in working in inner city Manchester, in partnership with a local Baptist church. This seemed to be a calling, and he moved to Manchester. He married Carol in the same year, 1967; they subsequently had three children. Through the church, Don became involved in the Hideaway Youth Project, which caters for the mainly black young people of Moss Side; he chaired its management committee for over 17 years.
During the inner city riots of 1981 he found himself faced with evidence of excessive police brutality as people whom he knew, arrived injured on his doorstep. He spoke out publicly about what he had seen and as a result, had to endure hate mail and death threats. He believed strongly in accepting people as they are, in being non-judgemental. The growing inequalities and injustices in Britain, and especially the changes in the NHS,affected him deeply and he participated in several campaigns to fight in justice.
He was a co founder of, and chaired, the Campaign Against Poverty and was a leading supporter of the “Save Withington Hospital” campaign in South Manchester. To seek relief from the stress of his life he walked in the hills and it was on a walk in the Lake District with his son and son-in-law that he slipped and fell, with fatal consequences.
Written by SARA BODEY, CAROL BODEY
Donald Ralph Bodey, a General Practitioner in Manchester since 1967, died 25 September 1993. Born Oxford, 3 May 1940; studied medicine at Christchurch College, Oxford, and Oxford Medical School (BM, BCh 1964).