Recently, Les Zietara (alumnus 1949-1955) joined the network and after hearing about his acomplishments and new life in Australia we decided to ask him a few questions!
1. What is your fondest memory of Hills Road – then called Cambridgeshire High School for Boys?
"I have many fond memories of being at Hills Road. I must have seemed an oddity, having arrived half way through the second term as a displaced person from Poland. However, I soon made many friends and started to play cricket and rugby. I have recounted to people many times over the years how excellent the teaching was, and to this day I owe a great debt of gratitude to many of the Masters (as they were then called!) including Brin Newton-John, the Headmaster, Peter Laing, George Hodges, John Mills, Gilbert Mantell, Dr Adamson, George Barlow, Ted Holden and many others."
Unfortunately Les did not have any photographs from his time at Hills Road, however there is one image, taken around 1955 which he wished to share:
Here is Les learning to fly a Tiger Moth at Marshall's Aerodrome on Newmarket Road, Cambridge, which you can still do today!
2. What were your highlights and experiences from working as a surgeon?
"After leaving school, I went to Jesus College, Cambridge to read Natural Sciences (mainly anatomy and physiology) and after three years, to The Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London, qualifying in 1962.
My appointments at The Middlesex Hospital were only in junior capacities, but they were exciting times. When I worked as House Surgeon on the Cardio Thoracic unit, we were involved in pioneering work on children with congenital heart disease.
Two or three years prior to coming to Australia in 1967, I got my FRCS and worked as Surgical Registrar in Cheltenham.
In Australia, I worked as the surgeon in a large group practice and since then I have been retired for about 13 years."
3. How are you finding life in Australia, why did you decide to move there and how is it different from England?
"I married Jill Radcliffe, a nurse whom I had met at The Middlesex, in 1966. We emigrated to Australia due to acute poverty!
Australia seemed very strange at first - it was so far away! We were made to feel very welcome, but were quite homesick. Going backwards and forwards between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere was not as easy as it is now, and very expensive.
But we soon fell in love with this country, the people and the wide open spaces. When friends come over from the UK, they don't appreciate the vastness of the place and always try to do too much. Sydney to Perth is the same as London to Moscow!"
4. Have you been enjoying your retirement so far and are there any hobbies you enjoy now you’re in Australia?
"In regards to my hobbies, I enjoy photography, growing avocados and restoring classic cars - I have restored a 1963 Jaguar Mk2 and a 1963 Triumph TR4! We live on a 50 acre property so there is always plenty to do."
Another thing that Les really enjoys is interacting and taming the Australian wildlife. Below is a picture of him with a beautiful singing kookaburra:
"This is Albert, and he is the boss of the local tribe living on our property which I have been training for about 15 years.
There are about 7 altogether and they are completely wild but come when I call, in fact they come even when I don't call! Albert (or Alberta for all I know!) has two offspring whose names are Greedy and Cheeky. I like to think that they come because they love me but I think that it could be more to do with the mincemeat they get."
Thank you Les, for sharing your stories with the rest of the Alumni Network!
If you would like your stories published too, please feel free to contact us on email@example.com - we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Hills Road Alumni Jack Merritt and Isobel Rowbotham work with the Learning Together initiative where students based at the University of Cambridge and… More...