Remembering Susan Thorne

 2024 | News & views
Ron Bishop, Sue Kalicinska, Janice Booth & Mike O’Farrell
BAcC Friends & Colleagues
Susan Thorne was a passionate and persuasive advocate of traditional acupuncture. One of the original members of the BAcC, she campaigned at all levels to build a stronger and more unified voice for the profession. Here, Susan is remembered by friends and colleagues who worked alongside her.

Ron Bishop: former BAcC chair

Susan Thorne was wonderful.

We were so lucky to have her serve on the Governing Board and as the chairman of the Governing Board.

Susan did not like the term ‘chair’ and asked to be addressed as ‘chairman’.

I look back with fondness and admiration at the manner in which Susan conducted herself as part of the team and then head of the team. Her professional and ‘no nonsense’ style was coupled with a cheerful and positive ‘onwards and upwards’ attitude. She was certainly effective and took us forward as an organisation.

It saddens me to think that her physical presence is no longer on the Earth, but her accomplishments as a leader and as a practitioner and as a caring human being will never fade.

My heart goes out to her husband Malcolm.

Susan will be sorely missed.

Sue Kalicinska: former South-East England CPD facilitator

I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news of Susan’s illness and passing.

Susan has been a major part of the acupuncture world both locally and nationally for so many years and we all have benefitted so much from her amazing understanding of Chinese medicine and her wonderful support in our work.

She contributed not just as BAcC chair but through her inspiring years as Surrey’s regional group coordinator and her invaluable understanding of the five elements which she shared in the South-East England CPD group.

Janice Booth: former BAcC president & Swindon RGC

Susan and I first met as fledgling BAcC Executive Committee members in the 1990s, having both been invited by the then chief executive, Mike O’Farrell, to sit on the board and represent our respective ‘constituencies’ – I think he noticed us actively running our regional groups and saw commitment!

We had had similar journeys into acupuncture, studying in Leamington under JR Worsley. More than that, I think we realised a shared passion for the recently established BAcC, which had brought disparate acupuncture associations together.

When Susan became chairman (she didn’t like chair – she certainly wasn’t to be sat on!) the committee benefited from her clarity, fairness and forthrightness, qualities echoing a previous career with the BBC.  She always attended the AGM and conference, believing strongly that a member should support its organisation.

My tenure as president overlapped with Susan’s chairmanship which brought us together on many occasions. We got to know each other a little more then and I fondly remember her steadfast encouragement and her warmth.

Mike O’Farrell: former BAcC chief executive

Sometimes in the challenges of today’s world we are suddenly reminded of an individual or an event that has a profound impact on one’s life. This happened to me very recently when I learned of the death of Susan who I had not seen since 2011.

I first met her when I joined the BAcC as the first chief executive and Susan was part of the Executive Committee and a practising acupuncturist. It was a voyage of discovery for me and she and several others helped me understand the benefits of this very ancient practice to patients and perhaps, more importantly, the help that could be derived from it.

There are various different forms of practice and of course, as a result there are practitioners whose techniques differ. It was during this period of learning that I first met Susan and began to appreciate how individuals in the world of complementary medicine operate.

It became very clear to me that despite their varied backgrounds – the vast majority of BAcC members having come from previous careers – all were united in their determination to work for the good of their patients.

Susan was such a person and it became a real pleasure to learn with her and fellow members as we tried to make the medical profession fully appreciate what acupuncture could bring to the wider world.

Susan also had a particular skill which I began to appreciate even more when she became chair and we as an organisation decided to enhance our push for regulation. Her skills of debate, honed at the BBC and delivered in a forthright manner, meant that there was absolute clarity about our message – and with it came a healthy respect from the regulatory body under the aegis of the Department of Health. Even the Privy Council gave us time to explain our situation – not a common position.

It was a real privilege to work with Susan. Her knowledge and uncluttered approach meant that the BAcC was seen by many in the corridors of power as a body that knew what it wanted and where it was going, especially from a patient perspective.

I was privileged to be at the celebration of Susan’s life and was not all surprised to hear so much more about the life of this lady and what she had accomplished. Many people and organisations benefitted from her focus and wisdom and it was clear thar she left a path to be followed.

For me she was a person of integrity, clarity and focus who helped in my understanding of a profession which does so much for so many.