Hugh Gibbons' references and extra information
hunnybone for July 2013

for pharmaceutical physicians, colleagues and friends

at Work
PPhood for
PPhurther Education:







I’m into metal detecting.  You put on headphones and sweep fields – some stubble, some stubborn.  If you hear a bong, you dig.  Sometimes you detect your bootlaces.  It’s great bending exercise for several hours, in the open air.  So far my best finds are ox-shoes (yes!) and rusty clout nails, which for me are more useful in the garden than coins.

We fixate on metal.  So we wouldn’t have found the wonderful wooden Vindolanda letters, the bones of Richard III, or Stonehenge.  Or the Tyneside tombstone of a retired Roman soldier, Barathes.  Coming from Palmyra - now Tadmur - in Syria, he married a young British girl, Regina.  His former slave.  (And what’s the story behind THAT relationship?)

We know nothing of the individuals associated with the relics we find.

Others are better placed.  In San Salvador, the Carmelite nuns running the Divine Providence cancer hospital also look after a little museum visited by thousands each year.  It has the surviving personal possessions of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  He was the famous voice for human rights and social justice, assassinated at Mass in the hospital chapel in 1980.  The relics include bloodstained garments, ripped as surgeons – and nuns -desperately tried to save him.  As befits this modest man who said “Aspire not to have more but to be more”, Romero had just three pairs of socks: one on, one in the wash, one in the drawer.  And an insulin kit – he had to fight diabetes along with everything else.  

Nuns the world over include many tough cookies along with gentle hands.  So do forensic teams trying to put a name to remains.  Try The Bone Woman by Clea Coff.  At 23, a graduate studying prehistoric skeletons in California, the UN recruited her to uncover hard evidence of genocide among the butchered bodies in Rwanda (before she went to Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo...)  It’s an appalling yet uplifting must-read.

One story haunts.  She organised a Clothing Day – a classic way of helping identification.  But the many uncertainties meant only one relic could confidently be linked to a name: a wooden prosthetic leg.  Everyone knew the owner.   

I treasure sharing platforms after the 2004 Tsunami with Sergeant Gill Williams.  She headed the Thames Valley Police Search & Recovery team.  That meant she was, well, comfortable with handling bodies recovered in all sorts of states.  So Gill was ideal to go and help with identification in Thailand.  Her duties included thawing the bodies ready for examination in a tent they called The Opera House – because everyone sang at their work.  Clothing there helped a lot, and Gill signed off many bodies for burial by their families.  

And surrounded by all that suffering, Gill suddenly aspired not to have more but to be more.  She and Peter Baines, a counterpart sent by the Australian police, decided to arrange, fund and build an orphanage for 50 children.  As one does.  Within a year, it opened – and flourishes.  Astonishingly, people in the UK and Oz have raised £4million for Hands Across the Waters.  

Maybe mettle-detecting is what we should all be into.  Discuss.





For more information at any time, contact
The Conductor of Just1, Hugh Gibbons

Tel: 01344 451847

Write: 75 Qualitas
Roman Hill
Berks RG12 7QG
United Kingdom