At its foundation in 1883 the Society was known as the Cambridge Graduates’ Medical Club. Originally any qualified member of the medical profession who was a graduate of Cambridge University was eligible to join. Nowadays any qualified member of the medical profession who has undertaken any part of their training, undergraduate or graduate, at Cambridge is eligible for membership. In addition Honorary Graduates of the University who are members of the medical profession can be invited to join.
The objects of the Society as laid down in the ‘Rules of the Club’ in 1883 were ‘to further the interests of the Medical and Natural Science Schools of the University of Cambridge, and to promote good fellowship among its graduates.’ Good fellowship of course remains a very important aim of the Society, but the furtherance of the interests of the School of Clinical Medicine now plays an increasingly important role in its function.
The inaugural meeting and dinner of the Society was held on June 27th 1883 at the Marlborough Rooms in Regent Street in London. From then until the outbreak of the 1914-18 war the annual meeting and dinner was held in London except in 1886 and again in 1911 when it was held at Gonville and Caius College. During these early years frequent Smoking Concerts were also held. No meetings and dinners were held during the 1914-18 war. The Society was revived at a dinner in April 1921 in London. Between 1924 and 1935 the annual general meeting (AGM) and dinner was held alternately in London and in one of the Cambridge colleges. No meetings were held during the 1939-45 war. The Society was again revived at a sherry party at Apothecaries’ Hall in London on October 30th 1947 and since 1948 the AGM and dinner has always been held in Cambridge.
The meeting and dinner is held in a different college each year usually in early July when Cambridge is looking at its best and when the reception and AGM can be held outside in an appropriate court or garden. The evening is usually enlivened by music provided by one of the college choirs. The Regius Professor of Physic may give a short report on the Medical School and the Master of the host college may give a short talk about the college, or a guest prominent in public life may be invited to speak after dinner. Very enjoyable reunions these meetings and dinners invariably prove to be.
The Society is run by a Council which meets annually and which consists of a President, a variable number of Vice-Presidents, an Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, an Honorary Cambridge Secretary (who organises the dinners), an Honorary Archivist and approximately twelve other members. . The Council meeting is normally held in London in the spring and is followed by a very convivial cocktail party to which potential members of the Society are invited.
The Society is more acutely aware than at any other time in its history of the responsibility which membership engenders. Support for the Regius Professor of Physic and for the School of Clinical Medicine has in recent times taken the form of appeals for money to fund Student Scholarships, either to help students in financial difficulty or to enable them to undertake further academic study, such perhaps as study for a PhD prior to medical qualification. In view of the funding problems in higher education, particularly in respect of tuition fees, this aspect of the Society’s activities is assuming increasing significance.