November 2011 Newsletter Society of Medical Writers

Patron – Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE                              President Prof Brian W McGuinness


Dr Dorothy Crowther

Corner Croft, Lonsties, KESWICK, Cumbria CA12 4TD

Finance Officer:

Dr Richard Cutler

30 Dollis Hill Lane LONDON NW2 6JE


Mrs Irene Ranner

Devils End, All Saints Way, Beachamwell SWAFFHAM Norfolk PE37 8BT

Editor: (acting)

Dr Mary Anderson

1 Ballbrook Ave, Didsbury M20 6AB


Dear Fellow Writers

Many of us are still saddened by the death of Michael Lasserson. Members may not be aware that Michael was presented with the Gustav Plaut medal in June for his services to the society. He was delighted with it. Although we are still sad at his passing the society is moving forwards in a way that would have pleased Michael very much.

We are pleased to announce that the website is now up and running thanks to the diligence of John Lockley — thank you, John. The new web address is (no www is needed). For me it is also great to welcome John as Vice-Chairman of the society.

The Keswick conference in October went very well indeed. It is a long way to travel but the views and beauty of the area give great rewards for the effort. It is always wonderful to see new faces at conferences and to make new friends. The speakers surpassed themselves. Our joint plot for a TV murder drama was quite thrilling!  A full report, written by Neil Wilson, will be in the next journal.

The new editorial committee had its first meeting in Keswick.  The next journal will be a tribute to Michael Lasserson, so please do contribute something and send to Mary Anderson. Mary Anderson is also leading a group to produce a new book of poetry. Poets are invited to send copy for this — see below.

We extend a warm welcome to new Committee member Neil Wilson; to Moira Brimacombe, our new competitions’ secretary; and thankyou to John Lockley for agreeing to take on the role of Vice Chairman.   We must also welcome the ‘new’ Editorial Team: Mary Anderson, Moira Brimacombe, Oliver Eade & John Salinsky, who will endeavour together with Editor in Chief Julian Randall to continue the sterling work started by our beloved and much missed fellow writer, Michael Lasserson.


Spring 2012 Writing Competition. Please may we draw your attention to the changes to the writing competition rules and entry forms. Please send entries to Moira as soon as is practicable.  The forms can be downloaded from the website.

The summer 2011 competition results will be announced in the journal


Spring 2012 Conference, Wednesday 18th April, will take place at the Art Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, once again. Past participants will remember what a pleasure it has been to attend these one-day events, so early registration is recommended. Booking Form and draft programme can be found here.


The Richard Asher Prize for Medical Writing. 

Nominations are required for this prize – you only need to mention the name of the paper, by whom it was written and in which publication it appeared. Self-nomination is acceptable! Email details to our Secretary, who will pass them on for consideration.


The Writer.

The next journal will be a tribute edition to Dr Michael Lasserson. Please forward any items to Dr Mary Anderson who is co-ordinating this as soon as possible.


The Website and other IT advances:

The website has now had an upgrade and will be kept up-to-date on a day-to-day basis. Do make a point of looking at it to see what is currently happening within the society.

We are also introducing a members-only listserver on the internet. For those of you who may not know what this is, or means, it’s like a notice-board where any member can place a comment, answer someone else’s question, or state an opinion. It’s entirely private — no-one outside SOMW can read the comments.

Membership of the listserver is entirely at your own discretion. All SOMW members will be sent an emailed invitation to join: just click on the big button in the email to make yourself a member.

Then, to post a comment, email it to and it will immediately and automatically be posted out to everyone else who is a member of the listserver. Once you are a member, any postings to the listserver are immediately sent to your email inbox.

If this all sounds daunting — it isn’t! Listservers are a great way for society  members to keep in touch ask questions, share problems, share their writing and generally meet and exchange views with other members — especially at times when there are no formal meetings of the society.

If you want to become a member of the listserver but haven’t been sent an invitation, simply email me at and I will send you one.

Finally, if you join but then find you don’t like the experience you can leave at any time. But my experience is that once you realise what a fun way it is to ‘meet’ people and exchange views, you’ll want to keep going for ever!

John Lockley

‘Poems on Prescription’

Plans are now well in hand to publish a new SOMW book of poetry, called ‘Poems on Prescription’, in both paper and electronic formats. As a SOMW member you are cordially invited to submit your poem(s), max 40 lines including spaces. Closing date March 31st 2011.

For further information contact Dr Mary Anderson and view the webpage.


Future Conference plans:

There are plans afoot to have a joint meeting with the Irish Medical Writers. As soon as we are aware of what is happening we will post information on the website. More details will be posted on their website or contact direct.


Autumn Conference & AGM 2012 – a venue and convenor is required please. Please contact any Committee member if you think you could help or have any ideas for this event.


Reminders –

Address / email changes. Please continue to ensure that your personal details are correct, especially your email address: if this is out of date then emails to you will get ‘bounced’ with no way of our finding out your new contact details.