Family history hunt produces results

A JOURNEY into the family history of a retired Suffolk doctor has today led to a major diversion.Dr Hilary Marlow, of Mill Field, Pettaugh, has become so fascinated by a non-related character discovered while studying his genealogy, he now plans to write a book about the man.

A JOURNEY into the family history of a retired Suffolk doctor has today led to a major diversion.

Dr Hilary Marlow, of Mill Field, Pettaugh, has become so fascinated by a non-related character discovered while studying his genealogy, he now plans to write a book about the man.

Dr Marlow, who has been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Award, will now depart for South Africa to continue his research.

The 66-year-old became fascinated by the life of Robert Bowen when he looked into his father's history in South Africa, the country of his own birth.


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His dad had taught at a school for blind, black children in Cape Town, which was set up by Bowen, a South African soldier, barrister and politician.

Dr Marlow began to delve into Bowen's past and discovered a remarkable story of adversity which will form the basis of his pending book.

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He said: “Robert Bowen was a First World War solider who was blinded with a piece of shrapnel which removed the upper part of his face.

“He was brought across to one of the hospitals in London where he had reconstructive surgery carried out by Sir Harold Gillies who is now regarded as the founder of British plastic surgery.

“One of the problems with being blind was that soldiers couldn't return to war and they did menial tasks but in the case of Mr Bowen he studied law at Cambridge and I think he was encouraged by Sir Harold.

“He was taught braille by Sir Harold's sister and they later married.

“After he qualified at law he returned to South Africa where he practised law for a while before becoming a member of parliament.

“He was then responsible for all of the legislation that affected blind people.

“The story is really, I think, one of how human spirit is able to overcome tremendous adversity.”

Dr Marlow plans to visit South Africa, with funding given through the Churchill award, to look more into Bowen's life as a barrister.

He will depart in the summer.

A Churchill award has also been given to Simon Bishop, of Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket.

The 35-year-old lecturer will travel to India to look into tradition Indian treatments for livestock diseases.

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