It was a complete chance that Jean happened to come across the beginning of this little ceremony taking place less that 50 yards from the front door of our house on Elmsdale Road, just around the corner on Erskine Road. about 40 people, some quite formally dressed, were assembled to witness the unvailing of a plaque high on the wall of No. 66 to a man neither of us had heard of before. It was to honour a doctor who had worked here in the 1920s, which made it all the more interesting for me as my own father had followed the same profession and indeed qualified at the same University in Dublin. I grabbed a sound recorder and a camera and hurried over to talk to some of those present and find out more about Dr. Busby.
Most of what follows is from the leaflet that was handed out to the onlookers by the event's organisers, the Nubian Jak Community Trust.
George Alfred Busby was born to Richard (a tailor) and Louisa Busby on 8th January 1899. He grew up in Trinidad, where his siblings Milly, Arthur and Zander were also born.
George was educated at Queen's Royal College (the oldest school in Trinidad) where he developed a lifelong friendship with fellow pupil C.L.R. James, a prominent Trinidadian historian, journalist and socialist. In 1817 George won the coveted Island Scholarship, awarded on the results of the Higher Certificate Examination, entitling him to study at University in the UK.
In 1919, after WW1 came to an end, George Busby set sail for Britain. His medical studies began at Edinburgh University, and after two years he transferred to University College Dublin, where he was better able to eke out the meagre funds at his disposal. He graduated as a physician and surgeon in 1925 and began his career as a general practitioner in Walthamstow, staying at 66 Erskine Road from 1926 to 1929. In this pre-National Health era medical care was not free, and he often recalled the barter system by which the butcher paid him in pork chops. Dr. Busby would continue interacting with his Walthamstow patients long after he left Britain.
In 1929 he set sail for the Gold Coast, where he lived for the rest of his life. He contributed hundreds of pounds to England's War Chest during WW2.
In January 1941 Dr. Busby marriedSarah Christian, who had studied nursing in England in the 1930s and shared his commitment to making to making a difference to health care in the country. They had three children, born in Ghana: George Junior, Eileen and Margaret Busby.
On Dr. Busby's death, in London on 4th October 1980, the many tributes paid captured something of his selflessness and the impact he made on people. "He was unique in his smooth relations with all manner of persons: rich or poor, black or white," said the obituary in the Daily Graphic: "Born in the West Indies, settled in Ghana, laid to rest in England, Dr. Busby was truly an 'International' – a rare personality."
On the 9th March 2020 his daughter Margaret unveiled the plaque honouring her illustrious father at a small ceremony outside the house where he lived at 66 Erskine Road.
NUBIAN JAK COMMUNITY TRUST
The Nubian Jak Community Trust which organised this tribute is an African and Caribbean community organisation that provides products and services to the generic population of the UK and internationally. It consists of a dedicated core team of seven, with additional part-time staff and a large number of volunteers.
The trust is committed to delivering quality products and services of cultural and educational value and practical benefit. Its approach is towards a resilient and diversely inclusive community that is proud and respectful of the African and Caribbean world-view. Its innovations are for everyone to enjoy and experience – ‘Edutainment” at all stages of life.