Guest Blog with a 93 year old Dancing Doctor – A Long and Fascinating Life

I’m delighted to welcome on to my blog today Dr Christopher Hopkins, my step-great-uncle (less complicated than it sounds!). He may be turning 94 this year, but Christopher is probably the most energetic person to feature on my blog: he is an author, still plays tennis, swims and dances and answered some of these questions from his iPhone whilst sailing in the Balaerics! His book, Recollections of a Southwold GP, was published last year during the Covid pandemic lockdown.

This week I had the joy of watching Christopher doing a Dancing Doctor Buskathon in Lowestoft High Street to raise money for a local mental health charity. It is also part of a competition for people in their nineties, judged by Sir Tom Moore’s daughter, encouraging nonagenarians to ‘grow old disgracefully.’ Just brilliant – so inspiring!

  1. Please can you describe your book, Recollections of a Southwold GP, in a few sentences?

This is a family memoir, an important piece of local and national social history told through the lens of my life. It covers early years spent in Cairo, subsequent travels and adventures, life during the Second World War, marrying my wife Mary and raising four children, my career as a family GP and my forced early retirement due to new procedures being imposed by the government on family doctors, lowering the morale of GP’s. This was by no means the end of medical work however as I continued to treat many patients with a variety of therapies as I outline in the book, as well as advocate for more generous funding and organisational reform of the NHS.

(In the words of Bruce Kent: ‘Towards the end of this book Christopher says: ‘Dying can be an anxious time for some’. This book, full of life, hope, good cheer, energy and activity, can do much to reduce such anxiety. I hope it is widely read.’

2) What prompted you to write this book?

I have always had the desire to write a book. With a long, very fulfilled life I felt I must put it in writing for my family and posterity. Also I wanted to advocate family doctoring as I saw it

3) You are still enormously active. Can you impart any secrets to us for a long and healthy life? 

One must have luck and the right genes but always enjoy being active in sport and other interests to stimulate the brain and spirit, including a religious faith and still being of use to one’s fellow beings in later life. I do additionally wonder if taking two Omega 3 capsules daily for the past 25 years has kept all my joints, heart, and brain in good order.

4) Which book do you think everyone should read and why?

The obvious one is the New Testament for the best way to lead one’s life. If this is excluded then George Orwell’s 1984 to guard us against the totalitarian state.

5) What achievement in your life are you most proud of?

Qualifying as a doctor.

6) What were you like as a child and what is one of your most memorable childhood experiences?

I was very adventurous, independent and quite clever. My most memorable experience was climbing the Great Pyramid at the age of 8.

Christopher on a Brixham trawler circa 1950

7) Where is your favourite place in the world?

Ford House, Wangford. (Note: This is the house in Suffolk where Christopher has lived for many years and raised his children.)

8) What is your favourite piece of music or song and why?

Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It stirs me in a the most pleasant way and reminds me of first listening to large orchestras aged 15.

9) If you could take one person out to dinner this evening, living or dead, who would that person be?

GK Chesterton (writer, philosopher & lay theologian).

10) If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Adventurous , friendly and family oriented, religious.

Christopher and Mary in New York, circa 2011

Thank you so much Christopher, it has been a real pleasure to have you on the blog and I’m sure many will feel inspired by your story as well as your remarkable energy. To read Christopher’s book, Recollections of a Southwold GP you can buy it through Southwold Books or the big A.

Dr Christoper Hopkins releases 'Recollections of a ...
Rebecca Stonehill

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you enjoyed it, complement it with reading Mphilo Mauncho’s guest post on indentity, belonging and tackling anxiety & a conversation with disabled poet Ann Young.

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