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The Miles family’s connection with Cardiff University is one that spans three generations. John (MBBCh 1960) met Enyd, née Griffith (MBBCh 1960), whilst studying medicine together in the 1950s. Their son David (BSc 1986), came to study here in the 1980s where he met his wife, and their two daughters have now followed in their footsteps. David shares his father’s story and explains how an anonymous benefactor started their family’s journey to Cardiff University, all those years ago. That generosity has now inspired David and his brother to create the John and Enyd Miles Award, with the hope of changing the lives of medical students in South Wales.

My dad John was from a mining family in Mountain Ash in South Wales, where he was one of five children. He sadly lost his father in a pit accident when he was six, so his mother had three jobs to try and keep everything together.

In school, John was academically gifted and was the captain of both the cricket and rugby teams. He had an incredible memory – he just seemed to absorb information. His interest in attending university came when another pupil decided to apply to Cardiff University, and he thought “I can do that.” Despite his ability, it just wasn’t an affordable option for John and his family.

John applied regardless and was offered a place to study medicine. It was impossible for him to attend until a benefactor – who we still don’t know the identity of – gifted the money to allow him to go to Cardiff. At the time, their local vicar donated him a suitcase as he didn’t have one. He took the case but had nothing to put in it except two pairs of socks. One for his feet and the other to keep his hands warm when it was cold.

David Miles (BSc 1986)

Dad and his fellow medical students used to socialise in Cathays Park, and they thought it was cool at the time to get a smoking pipe each and parade around with books under their arms to look like academics. It was while doing this that he met my mother, Enyd – who also studied medicine. And the rest, as they say, was history.

After graduating from Cardiff, Mum and Dad married and went on to work in London and then at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, which was one of the leading centres for Neurosurgery at the time.

They then went on to work in Birmingham and eventually moved to Liverpool, where John became a professor of Neurosurgery at Liverpool University Hospital. He was always fascinated by new technology and was lucky enough to witness the first ever brain scan in the UK. He went on to develop further prototype scanning devices to assist in precision surgery. Enyd became a psychiatrist and ultimately a consultant child psychiatrist.

My family and I have wonderful memories of Cardiff, both studying at the University and enjoying days out at the rugby. I studied applied biology and my wife studied maths, and some of our favourite memories were spent in the Woodville, The New Ely (which became The Vulcan), big nights in the Union club, and in particular, taking part in the fivelegged pub crawl!

It has been wonderful to see our two daughters follow in our footsteps and create their own memories at the University too.

The fortune that favoured our dad and brought him to Cardiff University was amazing, and he always maintained a deep fondness for the place. So, my brother Owen and I thought it would be fantastic if we had the opportunity to make that happen for someone else.

Because of this history with South Wales and in particular with Cardiff and the University, it felt really good to try and support students from South Wales, to study medicine. It is a long course over five years, so if our donation can help a couple of students manage that, then it would be brilliant.

(Top left) David and his brother Owen, (top right) David and his wife at university, (bottom left) David's family at his daughters' graduation, (bottom right), the Miles family out for a day at the rugby

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