Guernsey Press

Sark medical benefactor is commemorated by home town

A KEY individual in Sark’s modern history is being commemorated in Northumberland today.

The blue plaque in position in Professor Charles Saint’s birthplace, Bedlington in Northumberland.

Professor Charles Saint retired to Sark in the 1960s and on his death in 1973 bequeathed a significant sum to help with medical costs in the island.

The Professor Charles Saint Sark Medical Trust still exists today.

Professor Saint became a famous surgeon in South Africa and Rhodesia after service in the First World War.

Today, marking the 135th anniversary of his birth, his home town of Bedlington in Northumberland will remember one of its most famous sons with the unveiling of a blue plaque where he was born.

Charles Frederick Morris Saint was born on 14 August 1886.

His father was a headmaster and his mother the daughter of a butcher.

The blue plaque campaign was led by East Bedlington councillor John Batey after being contacted by Professor Saint's great-nephew.

As a ‘brilliant’ medical student he went straight from qualification to the First World War, during which time he struck up a friendship with physicist and chemist Marie Curie which lasted until her death in 1934.

He travelled to South Africa and established a distinguished career from 1920. He discovered Sark on holiday with his wife and moved to the island in 1960.

The trust he established on his death funds prescriptions and medical help for Sark residents. Fundraising to keep it running continues in the island every year.

East Bedlington parish councillor John Batey discovered Professor Saint’s story when he was approached by the surgeon’s great nephew and he has lobbied for his recognition in his home town.

‘I had no knowledge of this man before that initial conversation.’

The town, home to some 16,000 people, and the area has been economically depressed since the collapse of coal mining.

‘This can often seem like a horrible place to live from the outside because of the economic deprivation,’ said Mr Batey.

‘I want to send a message through the life of Charles. I wanted to memorialise him to remind our children that they can still do anything with their life.

‘He was not only a surgeon but a fantastic teacher and I wanted to share that with the children.’

Professor Saint’s relative will perform the unveiling.

Mr Batey was pleased to be able to commemorate the professor on what would have been his birthday.

‘It creates a nice symmetry to do the reveal on that day,’ he said.