Member Monday #033 – Professor John Ashton CBE

Every Monday we profile one of our Members. This week in we are joined by Proprietor 369, John Ashton.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Athenaeum.

Following John’s appointment to the Governing Board, we asked him to introduce himself.

Who are you?

I’m from an old Woolton family and still live in the village. Educated at Quarry Bank School, I decided to become a Doctor and trained at Newcastle Medical School and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I subsequently developed a career in Public Health, which I’m passionate about, which included 13 years as the Regional Director of Public Health for the North West and I was President of the Faculty of Public Health for London, Glasgow and Edinburgh from 2013-16. Internationally, I have acted as a Consultant Advisor to the World Health Organisation and recently undertook an assignment with the government of Bahrain to shape their Covid strategy. I am an author and broadcaster and contribute to education as a Professor at Liverpool University, John Moores University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

What is your greatest achievement?

I’m very proud of my role in the Syringe Exchange Programme. Introduced in Liverpool in 1986 to counter HIV, it went global and saved lives. It was an unorthodox approach at the time, focused on harm reduction, which was well summed up by the saying ‘sometimes you have to forget your principles and do the right thing.’

Can you give one interesting fact about yourself?

I was going to be a Vet rather than a Doctor (there is a farming streak in the family) and now enjoy keeping poultry and alpacas at my house in the Dales.

We’ve got a Duck that thinks it’s a Hen and 3 alpacas called Thor, Arctic and Aquillo.

What brought you to the Athenaeum?

The late Elizabeth (Liz) Christie. We both lived in Cressington Park and worked together at the Hillsborough Enquiry. I’m very glad that she encouraged me to join the Club, more than 20 years ago.

Is there anything you would change about the Athenaeum?

In common with other important historic institutions in Liverpool, the Athenaeum must refresh and adapt if it is to remain a dynamic and relevant force in the city for the 21st century. We owe it to the vision of the founders to approach this challenge with imagination and energy.

Do you have any Athenaeum memories that you wish to share?

Some great convivial nights with friends. I‘ve particularly enjoyed the Burns nights.

What would you say to anyone considering joining the Club?

The Athenaeum is a sleeping giant. Come and join us and help wake it up!