It was a double celebration last week – which is always a good excuse for cake! Our Science Director Martyn Blayney marked his 30-year anniversary at Bourn Hall and we thanked Gillian Bellars for her 30-year contribution and wished her a very happy retirement.
At the leading edge of innovation
Martyn joined us in 1989 as a trainee embryologist under the tutorship of Professor Robert Edwards, the co-pioneer of IVF. Embryology was still a relatively new discipline in those days and Martyn and the team were developing and improving IVF processes and techniques that have increased the success rates in treatment.
Martyn has always had a passion for science. After gaining a masters in clinical embryology he was promoted to Head of Science, and now Director, with specific responsibility for innovation. Under his watch Bourn Hall has continued to invest in scientific advances. This includes a state-of-the-art laboratory looking at the development of eggs to increase understanding of the reasons for miscarriage.
In his free time Martyn is a heavy metal enthusiast and enjoys festivals across the UK and Europe.
From babies to lambs
Gillian joined us in 1989 as a temporary medical secretary and 30 years later made the difficult decision to retire. Gillian is well known to generations of patients through her work in patient services. She has been a much-loved part of the Bourn Hall family and will be greatly missed. Gillian says:
“Well, the day has finally come, as of course it was always going to. I can’t believe how traumatic it is retiring! Leaving Bourn Hall, and everyone in it, is so hard.
Despite the tears, I am quite at ease with the concept of retiring, and I am looking forward to starting more intensive training as a shepherdess – lambing starts around 4 March! (I draw the line at ovine obstetrics though). We also run a driving school, so I will still get a bit of admin work (hurray!) with that as well as the ridiculous amount of paperwork involved with keeping livestock, although I do need an IT department at home.
I have worked here for nearly half of my life – I first came here in April 1989, so I have not quite managed 30 years! I came as a ‘temp’ who had never done anything medical before, on a typewriter initially, and I think I must have spent a whole day typing one letter, because if there were many mistakes, you had to retype the letter entirely – and in those days the letters were very long!
From day one though, I was fascinated by the work, and never wanted to leave. I spent five years typing letters, very often two-page jobs that actually taught me about IVF. After that I started doing various projects, including the original ‘Green Book Procedures’, preparing the rota, moving samples to and from Bourn Hall, admin for the Bourn Hall and Spanish egg donation programmes, trying to get to grips with surrogacy, organising andrology clinics.
I have always been happy to help with whatever needs to be done. You may think it all sounds very boring, but in all the time I have been at Bourn, I have never not wanted to come to work, never been bored and I have never had nothing to do! I have been extraordinarily lucky.
I know everyone who retires say the same thing. Bourn Hall is special and so are its staff. I have worked with some great people in the past and currently, and thank you to all of you for making my time here so enjoyable. Good luck to everyone, and to Bourn Hall for the future.”
Below is a carousel of Martyn and Gillian throughout the years – take a look through the images!