Antoinette Ferraro is a graduate of Cambridge University with first class honours in Pharmacology and Comparative Pathology. She then obtained a MSc degree in Biochemistry from the London University and was awarded a Thouron Scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1969-70. She did a year of laboratory research under the guidance of a hospital consultant in Clinical Genetics, and accompanied him on ward rounds and in outpatient clinics, observing a wide variety of genetic diseases of babies and young children.
On her return to the UK in early 1971, Antoinette embarked on a PhD at the London Hospital Medical College in Whitechapel, studying a red blood cell enzyme linked to a genetically inherited disorder. A few months into this work, she attended a guest lecture given by Dr Cicely Saunders OBE who was developing the concept of palliative care in helping the dying and terminally ill end their lives in the most comfortable way possible.
Antoinette says: “Meeting Dr Saunders and listening to her novel ideas about preparing for a good death, had a profound impact on me, and I have followed developments in the hospice movement with interest ever since. My mother often used to say a prayer to ‘preserve us from a sudden and unprovided death…’ and I guess I felt that hospice care was the ideal antidote!”
In 1989 she became involved in Fundholding and Practice Management for a GP practice. This allowed her to combine her administrative skills with an ongoing interest in diverse medical subjects. She retired from this in 2007, and became a trustee of Friends of BCH.
Antoinette has visited the Belarusian Children’s Hospice several times. She has been moved by visits to families struggling with the care of disabled and terminally ill children, and immensely impressed with the support offered by the hospice staff and volunteers. Palliative care for children with genetic and other disorders, the two areas of special interest to Antoinette, is offered to a very high standard in Minsk. This is why she is very happy to now give some of her time voluntarily to such a worthwhile cause, through Friends of BCH.