Retired senior clinical lecturer in public health Sarah Walters OBE graduated from St George's in 1985. Here she talks to us about her jobs, some of the things she loves, some which she loves to hate and her memories of St George's.


What is your job title?
My final job before I retired was senior clinical lecturer in public health at the University of Birmingham. I took ill health retirement in 2006 (I have cystic fibrosis and my health was deteriorating at the age of 48). I was awarded OBE for services to medicine in 2004.

What did you actually do?
At the University of Birmingham, I set up from scratch, and subsequently managed the Masters in Public Health programme, and also the academic training for the Part A MFPH examination for trainees from the West Midlands, although we also had some attendees from Wales and the East Midlands too. I did research into health services for people with cystic fibrosis, and also research into the health effects of air pollution. I also served on the committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and was a Part A examiner for the Faculty of Public Health.

How do you spend your free time?
Since retirement I have bought (with my husband) a 20 acre woodland which we manage for wildlife and community groups.  It was neglected and we have brought it back to management and in 2013 won the Royal Forestry Society Excellence in Forestry award for the best small woodland in the Midlands and North West of England. We run open days, produce small wood products including green wood turning, chainsaw carving and firewood, do our own coppicing, do talks and tours for community groups.  We are also trying to set up a landscape-scale conservation project across North Warwickshire and Tamworth along the River Anker. As well as this, I did a professional photography course finishing in 2012 and now run photography workshops at the woods. I also help my husband (an engineer) run a business from home manufacturing and selling security products to help prevent theft of bicycles, motorcycles, quad bikes, agricultural machinery etc – these products have also won many awards.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Aun Sang Suu-Kyi – she shows the power of quiet resistance to achieve change.

What’s your favourite book/song/film
Book - Wild Swans by Jung Chang. 
Film - The Hunt for Red October starring Sean Connery. 
Song - My Immortal by Evanscence

What would your super power be?
I would want to be able to heal my cystic fibrosis!

How would you like to be remembered?
Somebody who made a difference, not only to the lives of people, but to the planet too.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Never give up!

What is your favourite memory of St George's?
Although it was a long time ago, the antics of Professor Pilkington were pretty memorable.

Are you still in touch with people you studied with?
Unfortunately I moved away from London and there are few St George's graduates in the Midlands, although it is always lovely to meet up with old classmates.

How would you sum up your time at St George's in three words?
A great time.

St Georges were very brave to take me on as a medical student. I was the first person with cystic fibrosis to qualify as a doctor.  Taking on somebody with this condition was unprecedented, and a definite risk. They gave me the opportunity to realise a dream and to make a difference.There are now quite a few doctor with cystic fibrosis, and with other disabilities, and I think that St George's were enlightened to try and take people with disabilities on and prove they could become successful doctors.

You can find out more about Sarah and Alvecote Wood at

Read about some of the other alumni we have spent five minutes with:

Cathy Wield
Rob Galloway
Kathryn Lloyd-Thomas

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