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Swepstone

Heather Tellis, who was responsible for much of the organising of the memorial weekend. Photo: LSH@CameraChic.

They Whizzed From Oz! Part 2
Dr Michael and Stephanie Tellis
Memorial Service of Thanksgiving
St Laurence Church, Measham
Saturday 14 April 2012 at 2.00 pm

Photography copyright Rosalie Tournier

Text and additional photography copyright
Site Editor: Louise Smedley-Hampson

The service was conducted by Reverend Stella Polashek who gave the welcome, the address, the prayers and the blessing. Hymns chosen were "Be still, my soul", "Brother, sister, let me serve you" and "Thine be the Glory". Tea was served afterwards in the church hall.

St Laurence Church and Garden of Remembrance, seen from the east side. Photo: LSH@CameraChic.

St Laurence nave, seen from the organ gallery. Photo: LSH.

The stained glass window featuring St Luke, the gospel writer, believed to have been a doctor. It was commissioned in memory of Dr Hart, physician, the father of the Dr Hart who Dr Michael Tellis first worked with. Photo: LSH.

The nave is filled with friends, family, colleagues and well wishers.

The pews of the south isle are filled.

Talking to Heather; Helen, Ben and Garry are to the right, whilst James and Jonty are in front of them.

The congregation awaits the start of the service, with Claire, James and Chris on the front row.

Carolyn, Marilyn and Kaye in the choir stalls.

Grandchildren Katy, Annie and Eleanor.

Grandchildren James and Jonty

Heather and Helen in the foreground.

The eulogies were introduced by Dr Martin Vaughan.

The first eulogy was given by Dr Graham Buckley.

It is my privilege to begin these tributes to and to give thanks for the life of Dr Michael Tellis. Like many here, I owe a lot to Michael. Others will highlight the many different elements that made up his life and work. I will try to summarise a rich and varied life, dominated by service to others. His achievements flowed from him completely fulfilling and being fulfilled by the role of a family doctor.

His early years were unsettled by the upheavals of the Second World War, moving frequently and being boarded with different relatives. This gave him a lasting sense of the importance of the value to children of stable and secure families. As a medical student in Edinburgh in the mid-1950's, he found his vocation and his confidence - and he found my sister Heather. From then on medicine and family would be closely entwined with Michael deriving strength and energy from his family in pursuing his vision of creating the best care he could in general practice. I was inspired to follow in his footsteps ten years later to Edinburgh and into general practice. Like many others I was touched by the open and generous way he included me in his life and activities.

Professionally, the innovations he brought about in general practice from the 1960's in Measham were ground breaking in every sense. He was recognised regionally and nationally through Fellowship of RCGP and Senior Lectureship at the University of Leicester, but his central and enduring passion was to be a family doctor, caring for his patients. Another general practitioner wrote an autobiography entitled "A Fortunate Life"; Michael felt the same about his life and I believe that we are fortunate to have shared some of it with him.

The second eulogy was given by Dr Orest Mulka.

Michael was a remarkable man, who left behind in Measham not only many grateful friends who had been his patients, but a medical unit which had evolved from being frankly awful, to one that was awfully good.

When Michael arrived in Measham around 50 years ago, the surgery was based in the stables of Iveagh House, just 50 yards up the road. There were two consulting rooms, with a normal one for a senior partner. However, the junior partner had one which had a window into the waiting room, so patients in the waiting room could see and hear anything exciting going on. Admittedly, the window was frosted so that the waiting room patients had to use their imaginations a bit! The waiting room was very small and usually the patients had to queue in the yard. When the patient actually got to see the doctor they were likely to be given one of only 3 treatments. For most conditions, the doctor gave medicine either from the white bottle or the red bottle. If the condition was really troubling, the black bottle was called for.

Michael decided to change all that: he had a new building built which was celebrated for its innovation. As importantly Michael had a vision of providing really good quality care for Measham. So not just a modern building but also one which housed a team of people including nurses and a dispensary. At that time GP's practised on their own and so Measham had the first primary health care team in Leicestershire. So Michael got rid of all the bad old things, but I must confess we did carry on using the black bottle until fairly recently!

Michael achieved all of this because of his gift for leadership and the fact that he led by example. He never expected anyone to do what he wasn't prepared to do himself. The high quality care reflected the principles that Michael chose for the Medical Unit. These were put to the patient first and secondly to do one's best to treat as many patients in their homes as possible. Burton and Leicester hospitals were far away for the poor and elderly and most people didn't have cars. These principles resulted in really good care for patients and this attracted trainee doctors and new partners, who all shared Michael's vision.

Michael had a native cunning too and found ways of interrogating prospective partners to make sure they didn't have expensive hobbies or a particular need for a high income. This was so that the partners wouldn't mind using a large part of their income for expanding and improving the practice, rather than for themselves. If Michael got a whiff of hunting or car racing for example, the prospective partner would be relegated to the bottom of the pile.

Michael liked new ideas and technology. He was also a good persuader. He talked me into computerising the Medical Unit 30 years ago, using the then new BBC microcomputer. We managed to do it between us within a year, in our spare time and as a result we had one of the first and best GP computer systems in the country.

The Medical Unit looks really quite small when approached from the front. Indeed it was initially only a quarter of its present size. Michael revealed a talent for managing building projects, not only organising the building of the original unit, but then adding 2 extensions which each doubled the previous space.

Michael was also an excellent teacher. He thought General Practice was best taught by example. He became a lecturer at Leicester University and invited students to Measham to see how it was possible to provide good medical care so far away from the hospital. Measham was the most distant attachment for medical students, but despite this, we almost invariably had the best feedback.

Much of all this was done in Michael's spare time. Spare time meant after finishing work and the on-call. On-call meant sharing being on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I was always wacked after a night on call, but Michael managed to use the time for leadership activities.

Michael carried on working like this until a stroke made him retire. Even at the end, he was doing a greater share of the work than anyone and leading by example as he always did.

If Michael hadn't been here, we wouldn't have had the Medical Unit as we know it. But if Michael were here, he would also have said that he wouldn't have been able to do all that he did without the most important thing: the love and support of Heather.

The third eulogy was given by Dr Christopher Bland.

I first met my future father in law at Leicester railway station. I was visiting Leicester from University with my girlfriend Claire and we were being met at the station by her parents. Looking back, it could have been a "meet the fockers" moment. Michael greeted me heartily and promptly hand me the keys to his Saab and said "Why don't you drive us home?"

I had not driven a car for several months and in a very unfamiliar Saab, I navigated the traffic to parts of Leicestershire I had never visited whilst I was interrogated nicely on everyday issues. I must have passed the test as I eventually married into the family.

As I came to know Michael, I realised that we had a lot of things in common, sharing a love of anything involving technology. Michael loved photography, video cameras, computers and hi-fi. He was a very generous person and was happy to share all of his equipment.

As a poor student, access to these goodies was amazing for me. His hi-fi system introduced me to a different world of music, but he was never elitist about it. I always remember him telling me that you only need two things to be a hi-fi expert and they are found on either side of your head. He introduced me to classical music and took me on numerous trips to the CBSO in Birmingham. The Mahler experience at Symphony Hall will always be with me and listening to Mahler and Shostakovich will always remind me of him.

Michael's love of photography and video often involved him being the photographer at weddings and special occasions. As a loyal son in law I was always in line to be chief assistant, which meant carrying round all the equipment. After the event, there were many happy hours editing the films, which in those days was analogue with semi-automated equipment and a complex web of cables and connectors to bring it all together.

His other big interest was computing and in recent years these two hobbies combined in the digital age, when once again he was at the forefront of new technology.

I have Michael to thank for bringing to my life, many of my personal dreams. He introduced me to skiing, which became very useful when we later lived in Switzerland, and also to sailing, in his dinghy on Rutland Water.

In later years, Michael and Heather enjoyed going away in their motor home, exploring the UK and France. We soon realized that it we were to see the now very mobile grandparents, we would need to join up with them. In spite of my reservations, we ended up with a caravan and so with the children, we now have many lovely memories of time spent together in beautiful parts of Britain and France.

Michael was very good at choosing houses. We have moved house many times and Michael, right up to the end, always found one for us. When we had to move to Cambridge, Michael said he would go and have a little look round. Then I got a phone call at work saying he had put a deposit on a house on my behalf and he hoped I would like it! Thank goodness I did!

I was privileged to have such a fantastic father in law: he was a mentor, sounding board, housing consultant and best friend. His memory lives on in so many things we do and whether it is hearing Mahler or Shostakovich on the radio, skiing, sailing or just taking a few photos, I can hear his loving guidance calling over my shoulder.

Mr Lionel Marney, husband of Stephanie,read John 14: verses 1-7..."Do not be worried or upset" Jesus told them. "Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so."...

Mrs Marilyn Kent sings "My Ain Folk" from the organ gallery.

The choir, made up of both Australian and English people, was seated high up in the organ gallery.

Mrs Carolyn Priddle shares her memories of Michael.

Grandchild Katie remembers her grandad.

The great East Window depicting saints and apostles. Photo: LSH@CameraChic.

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