Thursday 12 January 2017

Best story ever - Lord Robert Winston

18:48 Posted by G No comments
I've just been to our Company's UK annual kick off, our theme this year being adaptability, and the Leon Megginson quote (often wrongly attributed to Charles Darwin) of :

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself

One of the more fun elements of the launch event is the guest speaker, we've had Sir Clive Woodward talk about marginal gains (and a fascinating video story or preparing for every eventuality), Ben Hunt-Davis (GB Olympic gold medal winning rower), who talked about making the boat go faster, and how they prepared for their Olympic gold medal race.

However today's speaker was Lord Robert Winston (or to give him his full title - Robert Maurice Lipson Winston, Baron Winston FMedSci FRSA FRCP FRCOG FREng), who was a fascinating presenter, I thought his presentation covered a huge range of topics, but all fascinating.  The way he intertwined history, genetics, maths, physics and classical music, shows the size of his brain, which was one of topics he talked about.

He told the story of Albert Einstein's autopsy, when his brain was examined his brain was found to be no different to anyone else, and he made two points, one to emphasise this to our children, to tell them there's nothing physiological holding them back from being the next Einstein, but also that (while pointing to two random people in the front row), that between then they have more brian power than Einstein, and that was the power of collaboration.

But for me the most powerful thing he said was in answer to a question asked from the audience.  When asked what he was most proud of, he said (without missing a beat) was he was most proud of his kids, which as someone who has done more for fertility in the last 40 years that probably anyone else in the UK is an understandable answer.  But when pushed (and in a typically very modest English way that only people who have really achieved big things can), said...

" I met  a young lady at an event, who had waited patiently to speak to me after the event, who told me her name, which didn't immediately register with me, but when she explained her story she broke into tears, as she explained that I had modified her genes (apologies I've got the details wrong here) to remove a genetic mutation that killed her brother, and as we spoke I broke into tears, telling here when I did the pioneering operation on you as an embryo that was the first in the world and didn't become a standard procedure for another year or so, and the politicians of the day wanted to ban the operation, which would have meant you would not have lived"

I was stunned with this story of his humility, his pride and his general all round goodness, and it was just a real privilege to listen to him speak, can we clone him please ?

Without a doubt a great story, and possibly the best 'what are you most proud of' anecdote - Lord Winston I salute you !


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