When the Fenland research club began I had been a partner with Bernard Reiss and later Hugh King since 1976. Vocational training was well established, but there was interest in exploring GP-based research. Elsewhere in the country Departments of General Practice were being established, and I think there was a sense that we in Cambridge must do what we could to provide an environment to make the discussion of a Chair there realistic.
My memories of the Fenland meetings include long discussions particularly of the way GP research should reflect primary care and it’s relation to public health rather than hospital concerns.
For myself Fenland provided an environment where I first learned of the difficulties of translating an interesting idea into a project, and then publication, and of the time taken to bring projects through all their stages. In this sense it provided a form of research training, less formal than would have been delivered in a University department, but perhaps uniquely grounded in the interests of the members, and absolutely independent of pressure to contribute to a larger scale research environment, to publish quickly, and almost independent of the need to raise funds.
My own interests from the later 1980s on became very focused on education research and the development of long-term primary care attachments for medical students. This resulted in the Cambridge Community Based Clinical Course, and a number of publications not grounded in Fenland.
I was an active member of Fenland until my move to establish a new Professorial post in the North East of England in 1998.