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From Medicine to ... Gin ...

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

Medicine to Gin…

Due to COVID-19 most of the customers from The Herbal Gin Company are local to the Newton Aycliffe area. As a result, most people know that I was a General Practitioner until recently and I changed jobs from being a medical doctor to setting up a gin distillery.


Some people, if not many, ask this question with a degree of ‘challenge’. Why change from being a doctor, with five years at university, one year as a houseman (olden days folks - 100+ hour working weeks) another five years for post-graduate qualifications to become a qualified GP, then a Masters degree in Sports & Exercise medicine, studied for in my own time after coming home from a full time job? Not to mention training 40+ junior GP’s over 23 years. All whilst spending 16 years in the Army as a Regimental Medical Officer and 16 years in the NHS as a GP.

Many people are interested in my reasons for change and the vast majority of people have been amazingly supportive and complementary towards my change of path, Inevitably, a small number I have met since leaving medicine have been openly critical of my decision. C'est la vie.

The answer isn’t so simple - or is it?

The Author - Jordan 1998

When I was serving in the Army, there seemed to be two sorts of people leaving ‘the firm’. One would loudly moan and groan about how 'hard done to' they were, the difficulties they had encountered and how the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence.

On the other hand - there were the people who I admired . These were people who, when asked about leaving, said they were doing it, in order to “do something” / “achieve something" / “aim for something” / “explore something” - you get the drift.

Perhaps too, it can be understood that these were the people who seemed to have a fun life, who were enjoying challenges and looked for projects and different things to do.

Bottom line - I wanted some of that. It was easy to moan about things (don’t get me wrong - I have done my fair share of moaning in my time - and I’m enormously good at it - to which many people will jump forward to testify!) but the adventure, the challenge, the novelty of the positive approach to life, had become increasingly enticing.

In my career as a doctor I was witness to an enormous number of life events, some were inspiring, some saddening, some amazing, some tragic. All were important.


The people I was lucky enough to help, as their doctor, taught me a vast array of lessons and I am forever grateful. Practicing medicine was an honour and undoubtedly a true privilege. Military service also afforded me the luxury of travelling the world and meeting people and seeing sights that will live with me forever.

We talk currently of front-line heroes, and quite rightly so, well done all our front line staff, a celebration of your skills and commitment is massively important to us all.

...and all the other front line guys too !

In addition, my job has shown me that there are unsung heroes in every decade of our lifetime. For some, we are aware of their history, for most, we are unaware. That ‘old lady’ or ‘old man’ passing us quietly in the street, (or currently isolated at home during lockdown) minding their own business, likely has a story to tell.

Always trying to keep an ‘ear out’ for past experiences, I am humbled to have been the doctor to someone: who witnessed the last cavalry charge of the British Army into battle in WW1; who survived Dunkirk, who survived the Norwegian campaign as a Royal Marine Commando; who was a prisoner of war in the infamous Changi Prison in Singapore and another POW in Berlin who had to literally run from the conquering Russian forces when the prison gates were opened in order to survive (yes they were on the ‘same side’!); who landed on the beaches on Day 1 of D-Day; who was a tail-end-Charlie gunner in a Lancaster bomber; who sailed in the Atlantic Convoys; who was sent to Korea at the age of 17, (arriving by the time he was 18 so he could fight),;who fought in Malaysia, the Falklands and many who fought in Iraq & Afghanistan.

LtCol Arthur Martin-Leake RAMC VC and bar Captain Noel Chavasse RAMC VC and bar

Two of the only three men ever awarded the Victoria Cross twice.

True heroes and both doctors in the Royal Army Medical Corps