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A group of wartime veterans who had their burns treated by a pioneering plastic surgeon enjoyed lunch at an Isle of Sheppey pub to celebrate their 70th anniversary.
The 27-strong group from the “Guinea Pig Club”, including original patients of surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe, family members and club representatives, enjoyed a fish and chip lunch at The Aviator, courtesy of Kent brewer Shepherd Neame.
The group went on to visit the Blue Town Heritage Centre where they viewed some early footage of powered flight over the Isle of Sheppey, discovered only last year and now on show at the centre.
They returned to The Aviator, at Queenborough Corner, and were presented with a 70th birthday cake, specially prepared by Shepherd Neame, which regularly supports the group. Each year Britain’s oldest brewer organises events for the club, such as brewery tours and visits to the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum at Manston.
The innovative work of Sir Archibald McIndoe continues at the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.
Opened in 1961, it was the culminating achievement of the efforts of Sir Archibald and his friends Neville and Elaine Blond, who lent their home to convalescing airmen during the War World Two.
During the last 50 years, the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation has pioneered leading-edge surgical techniques: the first successful toe-to-thumb transplant, immunology of organ transplantation and tissue typing, matching grafts to recipients and improving the success of corneal grafts.
Shepherd Neame retail director Nigel Bunting said: “It was a delight to welcome the Guinea Pig Club to The Aviator. Their story is an amazing one and we are proud to be able to help them celebrate their 70th anniversary.”