The Shrove Tuesday Dinner started in 1940 during the Blitz at the old Westminster Hospital. The hospital chaplain Revd Christopher Hildyard decided a dinner should be held for the medical students and doctors to help raise spirits and alleviate the oppressive mood of the time. Sir Stanley Woodwark, as guest of honour, addressed the assembled diners making a witty speech claiming to have finally perfected the cure for sciatica. As he was talking one student, Ian Bartholomew, sketched a caricature of Sir Stanley on the tablecloth. This was then cut out, passed round, signed by all present and mounted. The dinner has continued without interruption since then and all the caricatures now hang in the basement of the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.
Since the formation of Imperial College School of Medicine from the previous medical schools, the Dinner has merged with St Mary’s Hospital Medical School’s Final Year Dinner resulting in the current Shrove Tuesday Final Year Dinner. Although many traditions have remained it is now an occasion unrelated to the start of Lent but instead a night for finalists to look back on their time at medical school before putting their heads down for finals revision. It is a very intimate occasion with final years and consultants dining side-by-side hearing speeches from students and the chosen guest orator before being joined by other senior students and doctors for the after-party. Previous guest orators include: Professor Tim Orchard, Professor John Layock, Professor Karim Meeran, Dr Martin Lupton to name but a few.
Although filled with traditions, the Shrove Tuesday Final Year Dinner manages to remain unique to each class as it celebrates their individual journeys, their talents and the friendships they have each made at ICSM. And let us not forget the internationally acclaimed and highly anticipated Final Year Videos which are another perfect way to bring together staff and students.