President’s Message June 2020

Having followed the rules on social distancing appears to have had a desirable effect.

The government has announced we are to have some social flexibility and what a delight that will be in tandem with the sunny forecast. Hopefully this will lift our spirits and have some beneficial effects. However much we remain cautious and vigilant.

FIWAL Execs continue to have our meetings on Zoom which, for those of you who are reluctant to try it, has become very easy to access and understand and an excellent alternative to meetings in person. Our WhatsApp forum remains very active for sharing ideas, humour and various greetings and support for those who need it.

I have have had plenty to read and watched a plethora of streamed programmes. So because of Covid-19 I thought I might share with you what I have learned about an extraordinary woman who is very little known and deserves celebrating.

June Almeida (nee Hart) was born in Glasgow 1930. She was a bright girl who had ambitions to go to university. However, due to the the family’s lack of funds she dropped out of school at the age of 16yrs and found a job in Glasgow Royal Infirmary as a lab technician analysing microscopic tissue samples. She moved to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and met Enriques Rosalio Almeida, a Venezuelan artist. They married and emigrated to Canada and June worked in the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. She was now using electron microscopes (giving much more detail) where she developed a revolutionary technique for describing the structure of viruses. She identified several viruses, and published widely.

She returned to London to St. Thomas’s Hospital Postgraduate Medical School and was approached by Dr. David Tyrrell in 1964, who wanted her to look at a particular virus he could not identify. She recognised others she had seen like it from small animals (mainly chickens and mice). She described the virus as a halo like image which looked like a crown, and this was given the Latin translation, Corona. Years earlier when she first published her images of Corona they were rejected, considered to be out of focus! She retired in 1985 but was invited back to St.Thomas in an advisory role. She died in 2007 in East Sussex.

I look forward to seeing your online events on Dateline.

I especially look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our AGM June 9th on Zoom 10.15am for 10.30 start.

Wishing  you all a healthy June as we adapt to a more flexible lifestyle and hopefully we are able to see at least some of our friends and family.

Warm Regards,

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President FIWAL

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