After thirty years’ service as a Senior Medical Officer, W Bro Alec Hurley SLGR retired in 2010 with the rank of Wing Commander in the RAF. He envisaged a relaxing retirement away from both medicine and the military. Covid however, had other plans!
His early service included nine years as a Radar Technician - having been an RAF Apprentice at RAF Locking in the late 1960’s. He was taught to fly by the RAF as, central to his work as a Flight Medical Officer, he needed a better understanding of the rigours of military aviation and its effect on the aircrew. His last appointment was as Chief Instructor in Aviation Medicine at the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine at RAF Henlow.
He was initiated into Freemasonry in an RAF Lodge – Venture Adventure No 6022 in 2004 and later became its Master. He’s also been through the chair in Romanum Lodge No 8758 in Hertfordshire and is currently Senior Warden of Westminster and Keystone Lodge No 10.
After retiring from RAF service in 2010 he worked as a Medical Examiner for Civil Aviation Authority Pilots and aircrew as well as a Diving Medical Examiner for the Health and Safety Executive, before finally retiring in December 2019 – or so he thought! He shredded all past documentation and NHS smart cards as these were not going to be required anymore. However Covid-19 then took a grip and by January 2020, he was informed by the General Medical Council that his Registration Number and license to practice as a Doctor had been re-instated. This was a shock!
Approaching 70 years of age he started his new foray into medicine as part of the Covid-19 Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) team - manning the ‘111’ triage telephone service. Then, with the advent of vaccines, Bro Alec changed direction and returned to ‘face to face’ clinical work. The route was not easy, and much training had to be repeated with added modules and learning, including recognition of radicalisation, protection of children, heavy lifting, and the ubiquitous fire safety!
Nevertheless, after training, he started work as a Vaccination Clinical Supervisor at the Stevenage Super Hub and now deals with various clinical questions regarding patients’ conditions and the vaccine.
It has been a real delight and privilege to return to medicine as this very late stage in such a varied career. The highlight has been the joy expressed by the more elderly patients, for whom the visit to the vaccination centre has been their only outing since March 2020 and the real hope it has brought them. A last throw of his medical dice that has brought him real satisfaction!
Bro Alec has been most impressed with the dedicated and cheerful workforce that makes handling over 1000 patients a day flow so easily, along with the work undertaken by nurses and vaccination centre staff and volunteers. None better than the unpaid but supremely professional St John Ambulance volunteers. Many of the security staff that ably smooth out the coming and goings of the patients, wear woolly hats adorned with the Square & Compass - and they are proud to display their Masonic associations!
He will not miss Covid-19 when it is finally subdued – six brothers within the various craft and side orders that he is a member of have succumbed to this cruel disease. But he will miss that final opportunity that has been offered him - to be a medical practitioner doing a tiny bit amid the thousands of others, to make a difference. And he is not sure if he will shred his hard-won new medical documentation when he finally re-retires!
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.