Geoffrey Lloyd Foulkes practised osteopathy at this clinic from 1963 till his death in 1993. His deep concern for his patients and devotion to complementary therapies was only matched by his casual appearance and eccentric nature. The phrase “ragged-trousered philanthropist” comes quite close to the true description of Geoffrey!
After serving a brief apprenticeship as a draughtsman at Briggs Motors (later to become Ford Motors), where he was a contemporary of speed ace Donald Campbell, Geoffrey joined the Royal Navy in the early years of the war. During training, a rugby injury left him paralysed for six months, and in the slow process of recovery which followed, he received considerable help from an osteopath that inspired his interest in natural therapeutics.
It took him some years to find the resources to study, and it was only in 1963 that he graduated from the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy. He later developed an interest in Chinese acupuncture and was one of the first students to study Chinese acupuncture with Professor Worsley at the College of Chinese Acupuncture UK. Geoffrey practised from the Clinic in York Road (then known as Ilford Osteopathic Clinic) until his death in 1993. The clinic was renamed in his memory as the Geoffrey Lloyd Foulkes Clinic.
Having established his own practice, he set about his mission to make naturopathic and osteopathic education more accessible and went on to serve terms as president of the British Naturopathic and Osteopathic Association and, later, as both president and chairman of the Traditional Acupuncture Society. Geoffrey was actively involved in the early efforts to achieve recognition for the mainstream complementary medicine. The Parliamentary Act that granted osteopathy the required statutory recognition in the UK was passed soon after Geoffrey’s death on 9th May 1993.
Geoffrey is fondly remembered by everyone who knew him. His sharp sense of humour left a deep impression on everyone who came in contact with him. An article published in the Guardian described him as ‘An avuncular bearded figure …he made points with a dignity which he then demolished with a payoff that had delegates laughing uncontrollably.’
One, however, needed a wit as sharp as Geoffrey’s to grasp his humour. “When you get him home, I want you to give him a proper bollocking!” he once said to the wife of an uncooperative patient with such gravity that she could only reply “Certainly, Mr. Foulkes. Where will I get one?”
The following are the memories of Percival Ager’s granddaughter, who now lives in New Zealand.
"Mr. Ager practised osteopathy at this clinic from late 1920’s till his death in 1963. Firstly, heaven knows where the attached photo was taken, but it shows my grandfather as I recall him in about 1953.
He was a man of many parts – a keen amateur conjuror and member of the Magic Circle, a lover of technological advances in photography and sound recording, as well as being quite skilled in drawing with pen and ink.
Percival’s practice was quite busy most of the time. When it was closed, I would go into the downstairs surgeries and gaze at the anatomical charts that adorned the walls or sit in Surgery 3 reading or drawing, as this was the sunniest and to me most pleasant room in the house.
As a child living above the surgery, I was well schooled in being quiet during surgery hours, but I disrupted proceedings rather effectively one day by falling down the stairs and crashing into the bentwood chairs in the foyer. The peace was shattered, and Percival and my mother shot out of the surgeries, but no damage was done to me or the chairs. No doubt patients’ heart rates climbed though!
In general, I avoided seeing patients, but I recall one little girl who suffered from severe arthritis. Given her young age, I was asked to keep her company when she was waiting to see Percival. She proudly showed me how much more movement she was getting over a period of several weeks, but of course, I do not know how long that continued.
My father told me a story about another patient who I think was in her 20s and had become blind perhaps as the result of an accident. She had come for massage of her shoulders and neck but during therapy suddenly announced that she could see. Apparently, a trapped nerve had been released and this of course attracted some media attention, so much attention I’m told, that Percival was rather overwhelmed.
I was also told that Percival and a local vet were very good friends and occasionally the vet sent patients to Percival – I’m not sure that Percival reciprocated though.”
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