Reunited after 47 Years!
At AECC University College our alumni come from far and wide to study with us.
We recently caught up with one of our early graduates from 1970, Gilbert Méal. Originally from Brittany, France Gilbert came to Bournemouth to study chiropractic. We hear more from Gilbert about both studying, then later becoming one of the tutors, then Director of Clinic, and his recent reunion with past student after 47 years.
How did you discover about chiropractic?
“I had a sports injury, landing on my back which caused bad back pain. I visited a chiropractor and the way he looked at my back and dealt with the complaint really appealed to me. That was in August 1966. The chiropractor I’d seen suggested I should maybe consider study chiropractic, advising me that there had been a new chiropractic college recently opened Bournemouth, UK. He gave me the details which is when I originally learnt about AECC UC.
“I decided to enrol to pursue chiropractic and flew across arriving with one suitcase and £100 in my pocket, to start my first term a few weeks later.”
Where did you practice after graduating?
“After graduating, I thought it would be good to work alongside someone who was experienced, which took me to Exeter where I worked for a year, before being called upon to carry out my French Military Service, which I needed to return to France for.”
You came to back to teach at AECC UC, how did this come about?
“Once I’d completed my military service, I returned to the UK. I decided I’d really like to teach. I carried on working as a chiropractic locum for my former employer in Exeter and offered myself as a part-time tutor one-day-a-week at AECC UC, where I taught orthopaedics, anatomy, radiography, whilst also spending a little bit of time in the clinic during the afternoons. I did this for over a year.
“After this time, the Dean asked if I would like to work full-time in a teaching role. I jumped at the opportunity, immediately agreeing, which I did for seven years between 1973 until 1980, then later returning in 1982 for another five years up until 1987.”
What's been your best moments of teaching at AECC UC?
“The feedback I got from the students, having fun teaching the subjects which were all quite exciting – areas like clinical biomechanics, which delves into mechanical problems of the spine, looking at articles, x-rays, research, and references. That was all great, and the students loved it.
“Also, when I took over as Director of Clinic, implementing new assessment measures and ensuring students had benchmarks they would need to achieve to be proficient.”
You recently met up with Shu Yan Ng, a past student, what was it like being reunited?
Shu Yan Ng was one of my past students. At the November 2023 Graduation Ceremony, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the AECC UC. It was a special occasion as this was the first time Shu Yan had returned to AECC UC since graduating in 1976! His graduating year was the first cohort that I had taught on every year of their course, so there were many happy memories, especially being reunited after 47 years!”
What's been you best moments out in practice during your career?
“I was working in the Exeter clinic as a locum, the chiropractor who owned the clinic had gone away on holiday, so I was there providing cover. I remember it was near the end of the day, with the final appointment on Friday afternoon when the last patient came in hobbling, in quite a lot of pain. I only had a limited time with the patient. During the appointment I did what I could to make the patient more comfortable, but they were still in quite a bad way. I went into this profession because I wanted to help patients and make them well, I worried all weekend about the patient and on the Tuesday, when returning for a follow-up appointment I saw the patient running up the pathway. I asked them how they were, and they replied fantastic, and I was so delighted”.
What advice would you give to a young person thinking about studying chiropractic?
“It’s quite basic but I would say being a practitioner you’ll need to always think about putting the patient first. Sometimes you need to understand and listen and decipher what is wrong with the patient, which can be challenging at times.”
What is your fondest memory of AECC?
“There’s too many to say! Being there from the beginning and knowing everyone and the close family atmosphere of the AECC UC.
“The Christmas parties, which the final year students traditionally created a film of ‘Life at the AECC’, it invariably took on the role of re-enacting the tutors, which was always fun to watch and provided some great evenings of entertainment.”
Since 1965, AECC University College have led chiropractic education, research, and practice in Europe. We have continued to diversify into other health, sport and exercise disciplines including radiography, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, sport psychology, speech therapy, podiatry, dietetics, and occupational therapy. Creating a rich multi-professional environment for learning and practice.
There are many benefits to studying at AECC University College, from our state-of-the-art facilities, onsite clinical training and centres across our campus, and of course our location on the beautiful Bournemouth coast. You can find out more about our courses by requesting a copy of our latest Prospectus or visiting us at one of our Open Days.
Alumni Gilbert Meal at his Graduation in 1970 Alumni Gilbert Meal (left) with Shu Yan Ng (right)