Duchy Health Charity

Cornwall’s leading grant giving health charity for the promotion of health and wellbeing
and the prevention of sickness in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly

Founders of healthcare and wellbeing related initiatives
can apply for grants to help reach their objectives


Posted on 12 October 2018

Our Charity is always excited when the awards season comes round again and it is with particular pleasure that we have been able to support the Exeter Medical School’s Prizes and Awards again in 2018.

It was an honour and pleasure for Trustee representative, Tim Guy, to attend the ceremony held in The Great Hall, Streatham Campus, Exeter, on 3 October 2018 where he explained to the audience why our Cornish charity supports excellence in healthcare and wellbeing – even within an Exeter setting!

I am sure you will agree that Matthew Saint is a worthy winner of the Duchy Health Charity’s Prize for the most outstanding student studying in Exeter Medical School’s campus at the Knowledge Spa, Cornwall. The decision for excellence was taken by his lecturers but when you read his story you will gain an added insight into Matthew’s journey.

I asked him to tell us why he chose medicine as a career and how he might inspire others in the future. In his own words:

“Like many students coming towards the transitional period from GCSEs to A-levels, I was entirely equivocal and ambivalent about the direction my future career might take. I see now that I could have picked any combination of A-levels, a decision that had the potential to open many doors but also to slam and feasibly bolt-shut many others. It is an unfortunate reality of the education system in Britain that decisions with such importance and consequence are thrust upon students in these early and impressionable years of life.

In the end, I chose the three core sciences and mathematics; a decision spurred on by my gradual (albeit reluctant) realisation that I lacked a creative bone in my body, but also because I had heard that these subjects were “useful in finding a job”. It wasn’t really until I began my AS-level studies that I came to discover that I actually had an interest in the topics I was studying, particularly Biology and Physics.

It is again by another stroke of luck that I heard about a Widening Access to Medical School (WAMS) scheme at my local University, which subsequently organised a work placement for me at the local hospital in order to get a feel for what a career in medicine might entail. The experience proved transformative for me, and the brief exposure I had to medicine in theatre and on the wards was enough to set me on the path of pursuing a place at medical school – which, as I am acutely aware, is
easier said than done!

After failing to secure a place in my first year of applying despite interviews, I applied again the following year and was again rejected, except this time I had managed to secure a ‘reserve-offer’ from the University of Exeter. This meant that if students were unable to meet the conditions of their offer following results day, the offer would be extended to a reserve applicant instead. I remember reading on an online forum following results day that all reserve offers had been handed out, and I remember feeling the familiar pang of dejection and spending the rest of the evening crying to my parents.

It was entirely out of the blue that I received a call one week before the Exeter term started, offering me a place on the medicine course at the University. I have never looked back since, which is why I regularly think how lucky I am to have stumbled into a career that I find both stimulating and fascinating, and for which I have a genuine passion. And to think things could have turned out so differently!”

Two other awards were also presented that evening to Exeter Medical School – James Farquhar the BMBS Citizen Prize for over 70 volunteer sessions in Cornwall and Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Lecturer, Dr Jonathan Wyatt, judged by the students as the winner of the Shoulder Donor Clinical Award.

Editor’s note: I asked Matt to send some images of him at work so here are three ‘practice’ photographs with grateful thanks to his photographer

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