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New Bungay Town Reeve revealed

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 07:49 01 August 2010

PROFESSOR Christopher Hand, a Bungay GP nearly 32 years, was revealed this week as the new Town Reeve of Bungay.

Dr Hand, who lives at Mettingham, masterminded the design and building of the Bungay Medical Centre at St John's Road, and was conferred with the honorary title of professor by the University of East Anglia in recognition of his help in setting up the medical school there - he is its deputy director.

PROFESSOR Christopher Hand, a Bungay GP nearly 32 years, was revealed this week as the new Town Reeve of Bungay.

Dr Hand, who lives at Mettingham, masterminded the design and building of the Bungay Medical Centre at St John's Road, and was conferred with the honorary title of professor by the University of East Anglia in recognition of his help in setting up the medical school there - he is its deputy director.

Now he takes on the prestigious role, an ancient and unique office, in the town he moved to in 1976 to join Dr Charles Maidment's practice - and he is looking forward to the challenge.

“I think I can do this now. There was the setting up of the new Bungay Medical Centre in 2001-02, and then starting the medical school six years ago, which meant I couldn't have done it,“ he said.

“But I do no evening and weekend duties now and I feel I can dedicate my time to something else as well. I thought I might do it when I retired in three years time, but when I was asked I decided to do it now.“

Professor Hand, whose wife Lesley is nurse manager at the Bungay practice and a regional trainer for the Medical Research Council, plans to support two charities during his year of office - the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and All Hallows Hospital at Ditchingham, with which he has close working ties.

He is a distant relative of the founder of the RNLI, Sir William Hillary - his second name is Hillary, as is that of his elder son, Charles.

Of the role of Town Reeve, who heads Bungay Town Trust, he said: “I think the biggest challenge for the trust is going to be to maintain its work in the face of diminished income from its investments. We might not have the funds to do so much as we have done, and I am hoping that in a recession people will spend money on things that are important. Children in Need got a record amount and I am hoping Bungay people will be generous towards charities that are doing good.”

Prof Hand, who is 62, is the 19th doctor to fill the role of Town Reeve, and worked with four previous incumbents - Dr P G Levick, Dr Hugh Cane, Dr Maidment and Dr Wyndham Jordan.

Having trained at Ipswich, where his father was a surgeon, he did further training at Clare College, Cambridge, and Middlesex Hospital with a view to becoming a consultant, and met his wife, then a night sister, at that hospital. He also had jobs at Cheltenham, Oxford, Ipswich and Hammersmith Hospital, but took a job as a trainee GP at Ipswich after realising consultancy was not for him.

“That was the best move I ever made - I have done much more since then than I ever dreamed I would do,” Prof Hand said.

A year after he moved to Bungay, in 1976 Dr Maidment's practice joined with that of Dr Brian Goss. Later Prof Hand became senior partner but now the Bungay Medical Centre is run as a charitable trust (now combined with the Scott Charity), and has no senior partner. It owns the property company which owns the centre in St John's Road and runs it as a charity on behalf of its 10,500 patients.

“The charity supports people who are in need and who are ill, and one of the best things we do is provide transport for patients going for hospital treatment,” he said.

One of Prof Hand's long-standing hobbies is singing - he leads the singing of the song Old Bungay as the annual Town Dinner, and as a tenor has sung with his Cambridge college choir, with the Bach Choir in London, Beccles Choral Society, Keswick Hall Choir in Norwich, and the male harmony choir Arbutus, until it was disbanded two years ago. Currently he is a member of Beccles Singers.

Other hobbies include walking, cycling, and particularly gardening - he has a large garden at his Mettingham home. He was founder chairman of the Bungay Black Dog Running Club, which established the Bungay Marathon in 1982, and for several years he ran the half-marathon at that event.

Prof. Hand and his wife have three children - Charles, and James and Sarah, who both married this year.

In time-honoured fashion he was chosen as the new town reeve by the outgoing reeve, Martin Evans, and was installed with the chain of office and gown at the annual Town Meeting at the Chaucer Club on Tuesday night.

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