Dr Graeme Sloman AO (OW1944)

For the last few years, Welsey has celebrated Graeme Sloman AO as our oldest OW in attendance at the annual Golden Lions and Founders’ Day Lunches. At 96 years young, Graeme has had an extraordinary life and is an inspiration within the Wesley community.

Dr Graeme Sloman AC (OW1944) and wife, Isabel

In his school days from 1937 to 1944, Graeme was in Corrigan House, was a keen footballer playing the second XVIII, a talented debater, avid gymnast and involved in the library’s program of activities. Upon leaving school, Graeme enlisted in the army in 1945 and found himself on the Bellarine peninsula at Forestry Camp. With Wesley mates Alec Wood, Ian Parkin and Bruce Gregory, the purple and gold connection was never far away.

When Graeme and Isabel married, it was Bruce Gregory who served as the best man. Little did Bruce realise that he would later marry Judith, whom he met at the Sloman wedding as she was Isabel’s bridesmaid. Bruce and Judith would become very close friends with the Slomans, regularly travelling together on impromptu camping adventures and family holidays and continuing the long-standing family friendship to this day.

Lt-Col J G Sloman (OW1944) was guest of honour at the annual Unit Dinner in 1965

Professionally, both Graeme and Isabel worked in health and medicine. Isabel had trained and worked as a nurse and transferred her considerable experience to social welfare which led to the role as the coordinator of the clinic at the Royal Childrens’ Hospital, responsible for the wellbeing of patients with cystic fibrosis. Graeme studied medicine and had a long and distinguished career in academic clinical medicine and clinical practice at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH).

Graeme’s work has been celebrated by the University of Melbourne, RMH, Ambulance Victoria, the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) and Epworth Health Care, to name a few. Graeme’s work has been credited as ground-breaking and instrumental in the introduction of major innovations in the practice of cardiology in Australia and his work has been published in notable medical scientific journals including The Lancet, the American Heart Journal, The New England Journal of Medicine and the British Heart Journal.

But it is here at home that a very visible legacy has been left with Graeme’s pivotal role in the establishment of the Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) service in Victoria, his work in clinical settings with implantable pacemakers and in the establishment in 1981 of cardiac care at Epworth Hospital.

In 2017, Ambulance Victoria celebrated Graeme’s 90th Birthday, recognising the ‘father of MICA’ who was so well loved by his colleagues that they ‘loved going back to work each day’. Andrew Tonkin (OW1961) notes that it was Graeme who mentored him during his medical studies and inspired him to become a cardiologist too.

By the time Graeme was in his final year at Wesley, the network of Sloman family members was already well-established with four generations connected to the College.

In more recent years, Graeme and Isabel’s own children Colin (OW1979), Robert (OW1976) and Alistair (OW1970) all attended the College and have since been followed by grandchildren Ben (OW1999), Andrew (OW2001), Dom (OW2004), as well as an American granddaughter, Malia (OW2001) who came to Melbourne for a year, found a place at Wesley, and even found Bruce Gregory looking out for her during recess on her first day at school.

When Graeme and Isabel decided that they would no longer drive, the Wesley network brought Abby Traeger (OW1997) into their lives to provide assistance. Abby is a member of the extended Loder and Rodgers-Wilson clans and testament to the impact of the College across generations.

There can be no doubt that Graeme and his wife Isabel have lived the words of the song Wesley Now and Always. ‘Of friends true evermore, Wesley has a store’ could be no more evident in the lifelong friendships and enduring connections of the Wesley College community.

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