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We are honoured to receive members of the Guinea Pig Club following the Club’s last AGM

On Friday 20th May East Grinstead Museum received a visit from members of the Guinea Pig Club, their supporters and friends on the occasion of the Club’s last ever Annual General Meeting. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the formation of the world famous Club whose members were the badly burnt airmen of the Second World War treated at the town’s Queen Victoria Hospital by pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe and his team which included, amongst others, anaesthetist John Hunter, theatre nurse Jill Mullins and Canadian surgeon Ross Tilley.

Chairman of the Guinea Pig Club Sam Gallop with Town Mayor Cllr Bob Mainstone

Chairman of the Guinea Pig Club Sam Gallop with Town Mayor Cllr Bob Mainstone

The Guinea Pig Club was initially set up as a drinking club in 1941 with 39 founding members; by the end of the War it numbered 649 from across the Allied Forces and had become a vital support network for both its members and their families. Bar a small number of honorary members, patients had to have been treated at the Queen Victoria Hospital and had to have received at least two operations there for burns or other crash related injuries under McIndoe and his team.

This year’s AGM began at East Court where the Town Council hosted a reception and lunch and an exhibition was presented by Bob Marchant Secretary of the Guinea Pig Club and Museum Trustee. There were speeches by Town Mayor Cllr Bob Mainstone and Chairman of the Guinea Pig Club Sam Gallop C.B.E., before a sing-a-long which saw the Guinea Pigs’ own anthem sung. After this members of the Club were taken on a tour around town to view the High Street flower beds, which had been planted in their honour, and the McIndoe statue outside Sackville College before visiting the Museum where they were presented with the Museum’s plans for a permanent exhibition to the Club.

East Grinstead Museum is proud and honoured to have been a part of the last ever Annual General Meeting of the Guinea Pig Club in its 75th anniversary year.


Members of the Guinea Pig Club and supporters outside East Court


  1. Reply
    Sue King says:

    Sam Gallop’s highly relevant letter in the current issue of The Spectator reminded me that my late husband’s Scottish aunt, Kathleen King (now also deceased). worked as a nurse at Sir Archibald McIndoe’s clinic. I’m not exactly sure of dates but would think this was towards the end of World War II and in the years after. I know that at one stage Aunt Kathleen said that she felt very honoured to be nursing Sir Winston Churchill. Aunt Kathleen definitely felt very privileged to work for Sir Archibald McIndoe and always spoke highly – almost reverentially – of him and his outstanding work.

    I’m sending you this simply as a memory which may (or may not) link with your researches.

    Thank you for all your valuable work.

    All good wishes,
    Sue King (Southampton)

  2. Reply
    Sue King says:

    Further to my last comment, Aunt Kathleen King, also nursed at the eye clinic of Benjamin Rycroft. She often talked about her time at East Grinstead.

    However, my memories of Kathleen go back to about 30 years ago so may be just a little hazy, but thank you for letting me share them with you.

    • Reply
      Jonathan Parrett says:

      Thank you for sharing your memories about your aunt and her work at the Queen Victoria Hospital, it’s lovely to hear them.

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