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ICS Special Memories - How it got started!

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Continuing with our 50th anniversary celebrations, this next article looks back at the beginning of the ICS through the memories of Eric Glen back in 1970.

Reading the excellent contribution "50 Years of physiotherapy'' by Paula lgualada-Martinez stirred many happy memories for me of lCS and its origins.

Originating around 1970 with a conversation in Paris between Prof Aboulker, a very senior urologist, and then, trainee urologist, myself, I was being teased about the British love of club ties, suggesting that they should have one for such a group. The response I gave was that a club would be needed first and so the idea was born. Now the ICS does have a tie!

Prof Aboulker, his fellow senior colleagues in Copenhagen, Peter Gammelgaard, Peter Caldwell in Exeter and Richard Turner Warwick in London, were very generous with their time and support of me, resulting in the Continent Club being created, holding its first and only meeting in Exeter the following year. 115 from a total of 14 countries joined in that year and included bioengineers, physicists, other scientists, members from UK Department of Health, plus the National Research Development Corporation, industry and a range of medical specialists. Truly international and multidisciplinary from the start! Discussion revealed different specialities used terminology in different ways, at times causing significant confusion. Awareness of this created interest in defining and standardising measurements and methods, hence the formation of the standardisation committee. Much was to be gained from the interchange of ideas from so many disciplines and cultures. The extraordinary growth and worldwide expansion in membership and activities continues that ambition.

A more formal name was given to the continuation of the group, the lnternational Continence Society. The first meeting under the ICS name was held in Paris the following year, 1971, chaired by Prof. Aboulker. Costs were kept to a minimum with 3 unpaid officials, Organising Secretary (renamed General secretary), Membership Secretary, and Treasurer: Eric Glen, David Rowan and Patrick Bates respectively, providing their services at no cost to the society.

The core principle of the society, international multidisciplinary exchange, was fulfilled by the concept of annual rotation of meeting chairs and countries, designed to promote diversity. Each Chair and Local Committee selected the major topics for the year, encouraging the widest possible range.

ln 1975, Dorothy Mandelstam was the first physiotherapist to join lCS (see Paula lgualada-Martinez excellent detailed account of the invaluable role of physiotherapists long before the lCS). Dorothy was an enthusiastic and productive contributor, much admired and respected within the membership. Chris Norton followed soon after, the first nurse in ICS, rapidly gaining a similar reputation. Both professions are renowned for their caring and positive attributes.

The society rapidly became one of the largest of its type, necessitating the establishment of a professional office. ln 1985, Paul Abrams was elected General Secretary and established the ICS Office in Bristol. This expanded and developed into the highly efficient and innovative professional organisation on which we all depend. Vicky Facey was the first Administration Manager, succeeded by Avicia Burchill. Avicia, Carole Sales, Dominic Turner, Dan Snowdon and their colleagues continued to build on that expertise and now the office has 4 IT staff and 5 Projects and Events staff and 2 accountants (part time).

There are too many facets to ICS for all to be included here and I understand that a partial update to the 40th History Book is underway. Suffice it to say that it thrives and continues to develop. ICS faces new challenges. Worldwide, finance for study leave is being reduced, support from industry is under intense scrutiny for conflict of interest, expenses are rising. The present pandemic is severely impacting on travel and will have long lasting effects. The future may well lie in the increased use of video-conferencing and the employment of information technology. ICS can be expected to rise to the challenges.

Article by Eric Glen. 4 April 2020. Glasgow.

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