Daughter of Guinea Pig is surprise guest at Anaesthesia Heritage Centre event

To celebrate Museums at Night last month, the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre at 21 Portland Place, London opened its doors to the general public to host its latest Anaesthesia Heritage Lates event.

May’s Lates event was dedicated to the world-famous Guinea Pig Club and Archibald McIndoe the maverick surgeon who attended to RAF pilots wounded by serious burns injuries sustained during the Second World War (Guinea Pig Club members). Guest speaker was Dr Emily Mayhew, military medical historian at Imperial College, London.  Dr Mayhew specialises in the study of severe casualty, its infliction, treatment and long-term outcomes in 20th and 21st century warfare. She is also the author of The Guinea Pig Club: Archibald McIndoe and the RAF in World War II.

Also in attendance was surprise guest all the way from Australia, Gail Cunningham (née Quilter), who’s father Ian McPherson Quilter was in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and also a former Guinea Pig member. Gail and her husband Peter Cunningham were researching the Guinea Pig Club and through a chance email from the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre to the RAF Benevolent Fund and a scheduled visit to England, they were invited as special guests to the Anaesthesia Heritage Lates dedicated to the Guinea Pig Club.

Both Peter and I really enjoyed attending the Lates event. We took much pleasure in flicking through Emily’s book.  Much to my delight one of the photos included my father at one of the many parties at Marchwood Park Convalescent Home. It’s been marvellous to find out more about my father’s connection to the Guinea Pig Club. Thank you for making it possible” said Gail Cunningham.

On telling the story of the Guinea Pig Club, author Dr Mayhew said:
"It was a real honour for me to tell the remarkable story of the Guinea Pig Club at the AAGBI as, not only were anaesthetists absolutely fundamental to this patient cohort, but also Gail Cunningham, daughter of Guinea Pig Ian Quilter was there.  She shared memories of her father with me and the audience, really bringing history to life.”


Gail Cunningham and Emily Mayhew

The Anaesthesia Heritage Centre is dedicated to the history of anaesthesia and pain relief in the UK. It is located at the Association of Anaesthetists at 21 Portland Place, London.  Its current exhibition Brave Faces tells the stories of facial reconstructive surgery during the First World War aagbi.org/heritage.



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