A former Ministry of Defence (MOD) microbiologist was given the opportunity to revisit his old haunts for the first time in almost 30 years by staff at a Romsey care home.

Dr Roy Fitzgeorge, 92, who now lives at Woodley Grange care home, paid a visit to Porton Down, near Salisbury, the MOD’s top-secret science and technology laboratory.

The visit, with Roy’s daughter Sue, was organised by the care home as part of their ‘Make a Wish’ campaign, an initiative that aims to help residents relive happy memories from their lives as a form of reminiscence therapy as well as making their dreams come true.

Care home manager Liliana Macieira said: “Roy is so proud of his time with the MOD and is always talking about it and showing off his old pictures and stories to staff and residents.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Porton Down, near Salisbury

As part of his visit, Roy toured the facility and met with current staff members to speak about his time with the MOD as well as meeting some familiar faces from his old team.

Following his visit, Roy said: “Well it’s been very nice to come back to this. I don’t think many people can say, ‘that was a lovely place to work’, but I think this is. And still is, by the look of it. I hope it stays that way.

“I’m so glad it’s worked out well for everyone. So many of these places fizzled out. It’s not just staying alive, it’s also expanding and I think you ought to be proud of yourselves. I’m proud I worked here.

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“I’m amazed, so pleased that Porton Down has kept its place. It’s three or four times the size it was. Thank you all for a nice episode in my life. Quite a big one.”

Roy moved to Salisbury in 1958 with wife Pat before retiring aged 64. The pair have two children, Tim and Sue, and three grandchildren.

Hampshire Chronicle: Porton Down, near Salisbury

Sue said: “He always talks about his time there. He obviously loved it, it was such a big part of his life and prior to coming here he went to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine and that’s where he met mum.

“The first time he met her, she was standing next to a cabinet with mosquitoes in it, on her arm, feeding them!”

During his national service with the Royal Army Medical Corps as a medic, Roy recalls keeping patients in the infirmary going with a third of a pint of Guinness.

Roy said: “They used to give the patients a third of a pint of Guinness every morning as a sort of medicine.

Hampshire Chronicle: Dr Roy Fitzgeorge

“Before, with the different GP’s there, sometimes they got some, sometimes they didn’t. At Christmas I made it plain that they should get it always. I became known as the Scientist Alec Guinness!”

The former microbiologist conducted research into a number of pharmaceutical drugs and treatments and had a paper published in the Lancet about treatment of airborne diseases in 1986.

Activities coordinator Erica Orchard said: “He’s lived an incredible life and has done so many amazing things and we were all delighted to be able to arrange this trip for him.

“Reminiscence therapy forms a key part of what we do here at Woodley Grange and it’s so important for our residents to engage in these activities and spark such brilliant memories.

“I want to say a huge thank you to our wonderful activities team who arranged this for Roy as well as to the MOD for facilitating this experience. I’m sure we’ll never get him to stop talking about it now!”

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