Dame Carol Black: If I Had to Start Again

Article excerpt

I would love to have sung professionally. I had my voice trained when I was a teenager, and now I often go to the opera and wonder what might have been. My family all worked in the factories and warehouses around Leicestershire and had never sent anyone to university, so when I started my history degree at Bristol it was important for me to hold on to my place. I realised in my second year that I wanted to go into medicine, but there was no-one to go along to and say: 'I've made a mistake.' I had to get a degree, even if it wasn't the one I wanted.

After history I studied social studies and then, fearing I couldn't get into medical school, decided to wander round the world, working with VSO in the Gilbert and Ellis Islands.

When I finally got into medicine, aged 25, I knew it was absolutely the right decision. I wanted to be a hospital consultant, and chose to specialise in rheumatology, as it wasn't very popular. I developed a research interest in a disease called Scleroderma, going on to build the national unit for the disease, which is still the best in Europe. …